Press Releases

Kuster, Schneider, Brooks, Stefanik Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Train More Doctors to Combat Opioid Epidemic

Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) joined Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL), Susan W. Brooks (R-IN), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY) to introduce the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 2439), bipartisan legislation to train more doctors equipped to combat the opioid epidemic. The legislation 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 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.

“The opioid epidemic is impacting communities across New Hampshire and the country,” said Kuster. “We know that to address this crisis we must bolster the capacity to treat individuals with substance use disorder and our bill will increase the number of physicians who can take on this challenge. The opioid epidemic requires an all-hands-on-deck response and our legislation will help to step up efforts on the frontlines to get individuals the help they need.”

“Turning the tide on the opioid crisis requires treating addiction like the disease that it is, and to do that, we need doctors,” said Schneider. “Our medical professionals on the frontlines of this epidemic are already stretched too thin. 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.”

“In order to combat the devastating opioid, heroin and fentanyl epidemic that continues to plague communities across our country, a critically important piece of the puzzle is to ensure we have more trained professionals, particularly physicians, who can prevent and treat addiction and substance abuse disorder,” said Brooks. “This bipartisan bill will help provide more residency positions to hospitals that have programs focused on addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry or pain management. The opioid crisis will not stop taking innocent lives overnight, but without more trained doctors ready to help people who are struggling because of substance abuse, drug and opioid related overdose deaths will continue to claim more lives in Indiana and beyond.”

“Every single person knows of a family that has been devastated by the opioid crisis, and deaths related to overdoses have outpaced car accidents as the number one killer of young people,” said Stefanik. “The number of health care professionals focused on the treatment and prevention of opioid abuse directly translates to the number of people who can be saved. In my district, so many families are suffering due to the wide-spread impact of this public health crisis, which is why I’m co-leading this bipartisan and life-saving bill.”

The Opioid Workforce Act is endorsed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the Greater New York Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American College of Academic Addiction Medicine, and Indiana University.

The text of H.R. 2439 is available here.