APA and other Addiction Specialist Organizations Meet with HHS Secretary Tom Price

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other health care organizations representing the leading addiction specialists in the country met with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on June 19 to discuss specific actions to address the country’s opioid crisis.

Other organizations participating in the meeting were the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP), the American Osteopathic Association of Addiction Medicine (AOAAM) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM). These organizations are authorized to provide the required medication assisted treatment (MAT) waiver training courses to health professionals who prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). These organizations are partners in the Providers’ Clinical Support System for Medication Assisted Treatment (PCSS-MAT) and Providers’ Clinical Support System for Opioid Therapies (PCSS-O), providing educational resources, training, and mentoring at no cost to health professionals.

The APA was represented by President-Elect Altha Stewart, M.D., and APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A.

“To address this nationwide public health crisis, we will need to work together on many fronts,” Stewart said. “We urgently need to make sure we have a sufficient number of trained medical professionals and access to needed medications.”

The four organizations urged the HHS to take a number of specific actions to address the opioid-related public health crisis, including:

  • Maintain coverage for substance use disorders and mental health/behavioral health treatment services, especially medication-assisted treatment for all substance use disorders
  • Facilitate and increase access to medication assisted treatment (MAT) for substance use disorders
  • Direct every Federally Qualified Health Center to have a minimum of two providers in each facility with a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine and the competence to provide basic outpatient services for opioid use disorder Build critical capacity of trained clinicians by expanding addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine fellowships and increasing addiction training for physicians in all disciplines
  • Include funding for supportive services for family members of individuals in treatment for SUD
  • Ensure individuals involved in the justice system have access to evidence-based mental health and drug treatment services.

“The APA stands ready, along with these other organizations, to work with Secretary Price and HHS staff in to address this public health crisis,” Levin said.

Levin added that all four groups expressed strong support for quick Senate confirmation of Elinore McCance-Katz, M.D., Ph.D., as the first Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in the HHS.

The American Psychiatric Association is the oldest medical association in the country founded in 1844. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 37,000 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment.

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