WASHINGTON – Leading harm reduction, drug policy, and health care organizations People’s Action, VOCAL-NY, the Drug Policy Alliance, and National Harm Reduction Coalition today released the following statement in response to Rep. Paul Tonko, D—N.Y., reintroducing the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act today in the House of Representatives:
“Communities across the country face compounding health emergencies. The pandemic exacerbated the overdose crisis, and our systematic failure to implement proven solutions to protect everyone led to Black, Brown, and poor communities hurting even more. We need evidence-based treatment solutions now.
“President Biden’s platform calls for universal access to medication assisted treatment by 2025, but this past year’s record-breaking number of preventable overdose deaths is proof we have no time to spare.
“Everyone should have access to the health care they need, and one way to do so is through the MAT Act. This bipartisan bill would remove redundant and outdated barriers for healthcare providers to prescribe life-saving medicines. We are hopeful this new Congress and administration can work together to pass it with the urgency needed to address this moment.”
Overdose deaths in 2020 are expected to exceed 100,000—a more than 40% increase from 2019 which was already a record year with more than 72,000 overdose deaths. Last month, the Biden administration paused a federal guideline change that would have made life saving treatment, like buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, more accessible. In response, People’s Action, VOCAL-NY, the Drug Policy Alliance, and National Harm Reduction Coalition sent a letter signed by 192 drug policy, health care, harm reduction, and community organizations to Regina LaBelle, Acting Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy urging the Biden administration to support the passage of the MAT Act and remove barriers like the X Waiver for all prescribers.