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Senators Hassan, Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Train More Doctors in Substance Use Disorder Recovery & Prevention

Senators Hassan and Collins Successfully Included Pieces of the Bill in December’s COVID Relief and Government Funding Package that is Now Law

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R-ME), both members of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, reintroduced the bipartisan Opioid Workforce Act to support hospitals in hiring and training doctors in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain management. The bipartisan legislation would create 1,000 new medical residency positions focused on addiction medicine at teaching hospitals in New Hampshire, Maine, and across the country. Each hospital can have up to 25 positions through the legislation.


The bipartisan bill builds on progress that Senators Hassan and Collins made through the December COVID-19 relief and government funding package, which increased the number of Medicare-supported graduate medical education training positions by 1,000, but did not specify a specialty for the positions.


“Medical professionals who are trained to understand and treat addiction can make an enormous difference in the lives of Granite Staters with substance use disorder. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find doctors who specialize in this field, particularly in rural areas,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan legislation would help teaching hospitals, such as Dartmouth-Hitchcock, hire more residents who specialize in addiction medicine, which in turn will help more Granite Staters who are battling addiction receive the health care that they need.”


“Our country was already facing a shortage of physicians trained in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, and pain management before the pandemic began, and the ongoing public health crisis has only exacerbated the opioid epidemic and the growing demand for treatment services. In Maine, there is only one addiction medicine program,” said Senator Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would help increase the number of these providers by expanding and creating new residency programs in Maine and across the country, helping the millions of Americans who are struggling with substance use disorders achieve recovery and healing.”


"Over the last year, health care providers at the front lines have had to address both the impact of COVID-19 and the continuing struggles many patients face with substance use disorders,” said Susan A. Reeves, EdD, RN, Executive Vice President of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. “As the only academic medical center in New Hampshire, Dartmouth-Hitchcock is committed to training the next generation of physicians and understands the critical need to expand specialized addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry and pain management residency programs. We thank Senator Hassan for her introduction of the Opioid Workforce Act, which would enable teaching hospitals like ours to train additional physicians to care for patients struggling with substance use disorders.”


Senator Hassan is leading bipartisan efforts to combat the substance use disorder crisis, and since 2017, the Senator has worked to secure more than $86 million to New Hampshire in State Opioid Response grant funding to address the substance use disorder epidemic. Senator Hassan has also led bipartisan efforts to vastly increase access to life-saving addiction medicine by pushing to eliminate a requirement that currently blocks millions of highly trained health professionals from prescribing medication-assisted treatment to their patients. Today, the Biden administration announced that it is removing some the barriers that Senator Hassan is leading efforts to eliminate.


You can read the text of the legislation here.