ACEP Applauds Bill to Expedite Patient Access to Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

WASHINGTON, DC—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) applauds the reintroduction of the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, legislation that clears a bureaucratic hurdle to patient access to treatment for opioid use disorder by eliminating the “x-waiver” requirement for prescribing physicians.

“By eliminating the x-waiver, this bill expands physicians’ ability to administer medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which will save lives,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of ACEP. “The x-waiver is outdated and contributes to the stigma around treating opioid use disorder. Many emergency physicians are seeing an uptick in opioid overdoses during the pandemic and this bill makes it easier for patients to receive one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder in the emergency department.”

This bipartisan, bicameral bill, introduced by Representatives Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), Michael Turner (R-OH) and Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), will give more emergency physicians the ability to address the rising number of opioid-related incidents.

Currently, physicians who want to prescribe buprenorphine outside of opioid treatment programs must take an eight-hour course and often wait 60 to 90 days to receive the waiver once the course is completed and the license application is submitted. This requirement contributes to misperceptions about MAT and leads some clinicians to be hesitant about pursuing this additional licensure requirement necessary to prescribe medications such as buprenorphine or even engage in treatment of patients with OUD.

Increasing patient access to care and reducing stigma around treating OUD in the emergency department continues to be a major priority for ACEP.

“One of the most effective ways to combat the opioid crisis is supporting access to MAT,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “Emergency physicians are pleased and families around the country can be grateful that barriers to treatment are being removed.”   

Read more about opioids and substance use disorders: https://www.emergencyphysicians.org/articles/categories/topics/substance-use-disorders

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is the national medical society representing emergency medicine. Through continuing education, research, public education and advocacy, ACEP advances emergency care on behalf of its 40,000 emergency physician members, and the more than 150 million Americans they treat on an annual basis. For more information, visit www.acep.org and www.emergencyphysicians.org

Contact: Steve Arnoff | sarnoff@acep.org | Twitter @EmergencyDocs

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