Senator Hassan Also Emphasizes Importance of Expanding Access to Lifesaving Medication-Assisted Treatment
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan today pressed the Biden administration’s nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, on the importance of maintaining robust funding for New Hampshire to address the devastating substance use disorder crisis during a Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee hearing.
To watch Senator Hassan’s questioning, click here.
“Since 2017, I have worked with my colleagues to secure funding for State Opioid Response grants, including more than $86 million dollars for New Hampshire,” Senator Hassan said. “This funding has enabled states to expand access to life-saving treatment and services for those struggling with substance use disorder. But I am concerned that hard-won progress may be in jeopardy.”
Senator Hassan went on to discuss how states like New Hampshire are at risk of facing a dramatic cut in their State Opioid Response grant levels, and pressed Dr. Delphin-Rittmon to ensure that states like New Hampshire continue to receive the State Opioid Response grant funding that they need.
“I’m asking for a specific commitment here for a reason. I’ve asked the same question of the HHS Secretary, the Deputy Secretary, and others during their confirmation processes. At that point they told me that they weren’t yet part of administration, but now they have been confirmed and the Department is still not committing to fixing this problem,” Senator Hassan said.
The Senator also raised her concerns about how the State Opioid Response grant funding is administered to states.
“I’m going to follow up with questions… to get more precision and clarity about the path forward. Because what I want to stress here today is that simply shifting grant funding from state to state as data shifts - and as the substance use disorder crisis worsens - just isn’t a viable, long-term solution,” Senator Hassan said. “We’re gonna play whack-a-mole. One state is gonna bump into the top ten so we’re going to shift funding there, other states the crisis will worsen, we’ll shift funding back, that doesn’t help us get to where we need to be.”
“I’m really looking forward to working with the administration on this, but I’m also looking for commitments from the administration,” Senator Hassan continued.
Senator Hassan also discussed her bipartisan efforts to eliminate an outdated requirement, the so-called ‘x-waiver,’ that limits the number of medical practitioners who can prescribe life-saving medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder. Senator Hassan pointed to her Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, a bipartisan bill that she reintroduced earlier this year with Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), that would fully eliminate this waiver.
Dr. Delphin-Rittmon agreed with Senator Hassan about the importance of expanding access to this form of medication-assisted treatment. “As one my priorities around expanding access to substance use and mental health services – that includes expanding access to medication-assisted treatment,” said Dr. Delphin-Rittmon.