June 19, 2018

Bill would require federal study on addiction treatment infrastructure | Beckley Register-Herald

A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would require a federal study on the substance use disorder treatment infrastructure in the U.S.

Specifically, the Examining Opioid Treatment Infrastructure Act would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to evaluate and report on the capacity of both residential and inpatient treatment facilities along with the status of their availability and needs.

"In order for the government to properly allocate funding, we need to know exactly how much we need and where it should go," said U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., one of the sponsors of the bill.

"While I applaud the work of various outside groups to provide this information, I don't think the federal government can be a true partner in this effort until it officially recognizes the scope and scale of the epidemic that we're dealing with," Manchin said. "This study will be our guide and will serve as the foundation of government-funded substance use disorder treatment and will allow us to measure our progress in the years ahead."

U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, said his state has seen the struggle of providing those suffering from addiction with sufficient access to treatment.

"The rapidly growing opioid epidemic has only compounded the issues we face with understaffing, bed shortages and growing wait times," Sullivan said. "This legislation highlights an often overlooked issue in the fight against heroin and prescription painkiller addiction -- the lack of quality addiction treatment facilities, which has been raised by advocates and medical health professionals in communities across my state."

He said when a person makes the important step of seeking help to achieve sobriety, "We should be doing everything we can to promote sustained, long-term recovery. This legislation directs the federal government to take a comprehensive inventory of treatment options and is key to ensuring the most impactful disbursement of funding as we work toward solutions to this public health crisis."

The study also will look at treatment availability by geographic region and within specific demographics, including pregnant women and adolescents. The GAO report would need to be conducted and presented to Congress within 24 months.

By:  Wendy Holdren