WASHINGTON (WOWK) – U.S. Representatives David B. McKinley, P.E. (R-WV) and Brad Schneider (D-IL) say they have introduced new, bipartisan legislation aiming to train more doctors to be equipped to combat the opioid epidemic.
According to the Representatives, the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act of 2021 is designed to create 1,000 additional residency positions over a five-year period in hospitals with addiction medicine, pain management and addiction psychiatry programs.
“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,” 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.”
The senators say the goal of this legislation is to expand graduate medical education in order to alleviate the physician shortage, which “threatens to harm” efforts to end the opioid epidemic. According to McKinley and Schneider, a study by the Association of American Medical Colleges says the shortage is anticipated to grow to 121,000 needed physicians by 2032.
“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. “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.”
According to the senators, the Association of American Medical Colleges, Greater New York Hospital Association, American Hospital Association, Illinois Hospital Association, and American Medical Association have all endorsed the legislation.