Paul Tonko portrait 2015

Tonko Bills To Be Signed Into Law

Today, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, by a vote of 393-8. Four sections of the bill were written by Congressman Tonko, including an expansion of medication-assisted treatment, a multi-year priority that will help meaningfully combat the opioid crisis and reduce overdose deaths.

“Overdoses claimed more than 64,000 American lives in 2016, now the single greatest cause of death for Americans under 50, yet just 1 in 5 Americans suffering from a substance use disorder is currently receiving treatment,” Tonko observed. “Our national response needs to rise to meet the unprecedented scale of this crisis. I am delighted that the House voted this afternoon to adopt my Addiction Treatment Access Improvement Act as part of the legislation passed today. Ensuring patients can access cutting-edge addiction treatment is a matter of life and death for countless Americans and their families. I look forward to this opioid package quickly passing the Senate and being signed into law by President Trump.”

Tonko has a long legislative history working on H.R. 3692, including its bipartisan adoption by the full U.S. House of Representatives in June 2018. Written as section 3101 of H.R. 6, this legislation will expand access to high-quality addiction treatment by allowing additional health care providers, such as nurse midwives, to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. In addition, this provision will make permanent buprenorphine prescribing authority for nurse practitioners and physician assistants and allow certain providers to treat more patients in the first year of their license. The bill has received support from the American Society of Addiction Medicine, the American Nurses Association,American Association of Nurse PractitionersAmerican Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Nurse-Midwives, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists, the National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Three additional sections of the bill written by Tonko are summarized below:

Medicaid Reentry Act (H.R. 4005 – Section 5032) – allows states to engage in demonstration projects to improve medical care and transition services to Medicaid-eligible incarcerated individuals in the 30 days prior to release from jail or prison. Studies have shown that individuals who are released back into the community post-incarceration are roughly 129 times more likely to die of an overdose in the first two weeks post-release compared to the general population.

TEACH to Combat Addiction Act (H.R. 5261 – Section 7101) – improves medical education for addiction treatment by creating centers of excellence in substance use disorder education to develop and disseminate model curriculum.

Access to Increased Drug Disposal Act (H.R. 5628 – Section 3152) – provides funding to increase the availability of prescription drug disposal sites.

“While many in Washington are focused on partisan fights, I have been working to get real results to help reduce opioid overdoes and get individuals on the road to recovery. Whether helping pregnant mothers, incarcerated individuals, future doctors or investing in more takeback sites, this measure represents a significant bit of progress and resources to combat the opioid crisis.”

Full remarks from floor debate by Congressman Tonko can be found here.

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