Led by Senators Orin Hatch and Edward Markey with sign on by 20 other senators, a letter to Sylvia Burwell, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), encouraged an increase of the number of patients a single physician can treat in a Medication Assisted Therapy (MAT) program from the current 100 patient limit to 500 patients.
This request is being made even in the face of a proposed Rule issued by HHS to increase the limit to 200 patients per physician. The Senators point out that, even at a 200 patients per physician limit, the need will far outstrip the number of slots for patients that require treatment. The letter goes on to say:
As you finalize the proposed rule, we strongly urge you to include a higher cap of 500 patients, consistent with the bipartisan compromise that emerged from toe Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee last month with the advancement of S. 1455, the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act. This legislation also included provisions to allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide MAT for opioid use disorders.
Clearly, this Congressional outreach demonstrates that our leaders are recognizing that treatment options and availability are limited for many patients (that could use the help) by statutory and regulatory constraints placed on the medical community that treat these patients. Opening additional slots will help accommodate significantly more patients to MAT and may prevent other unintended societal consequences of addiction. A copy of the Congressional letter as posted on the GPhA website can be found here.