U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-W.Va) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) introduced bipartisan legislation to train more doctors equipped to combat the opioid epidemic.
The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act of 2021 would create 1,000 additional residency positions over five years to hospitals with addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management programs.
This legislation to expand graduate medical education (GME) aims to alleviate the worsening physician shortage, which is anticipated to be as high as 121,000 physicians by 2032 according to a study by the Association of American of Medical Colleges. This shortage is particularly acute in the field of addiction medicine and substance use disorder (SUD) treatment. This shortfall of doctors threatens to harm our efforts to reverse the opioid epidemic.
"To get our opioid epidemic under control means improving access to treatment. Without an adequate number of providers trained in treating substance abuse disorder -- particularly in rural communities where opioids are rampant -- we won't win this fight," Congressman McKinley said. "Our bipartisan legislation would help increase the number of providers by providing a pathway for more young doctors to combat this scourge. This step would help millions of Americans who are struggling with addiction."
"Turning the tide on the opioid crisis requires treating addiction like the disease that it is, and to do that, we need doctors," said Congressman Brad Schneider. "The COVID pandemic reinforced awareness that medical professionals are stretched too thin, while further exacerbating the problem for those struggling with substance abuse. Our bipartisan legislation aims to educate more physicians equipped with the latest training in addiction medicine and psychiatry to help the estimated 20 million Americans who need substance use treatment get much needed care."
The Opioid Workforce Act is endorsed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, Greater New York Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, Illinois Hospital Association, and American Medical Association.