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NAADAC Addresses Congressional Leadership in End of Year Letter

NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, urges House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to include several key policy priorities in any end-of-year legislative package. These provisions, highlighted below, are crucial for NAADAC’s work to create healthier individuals, families, and communities through prevention, intervention, quality treatment, and recovery support.

Congress can help ensure a robust addiction workforce by providing increased fiscal year 2023 appropriations for the following key programs:

  • Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment (SAPT) Block Grant: This program provides infrastructure support for public-funded facilities. The SAPT Block Grant system of selection and disbursement is well established with a distribution plan in place. This makes for a more efficient and timelier mechanism for meeting the needs of the communities across the nation.
  • Loan Repayment Program for Substance Use Disorder Treatment Workforce (STAR LRP): This program was established in 2018 by the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act (PL 115-271) to help incentivize students to pursue substance use disorder treatment professions by providing up to $250,000 toward student loan repayment.
  • Minority Fellowship Program: This program awards tuition support funding to individuals to support their education in an addictions-focused discipline in return for a commitment to work with minority and other underserved communities after graduation. Salaries in the addiction workspace are extremely low, so incentivizing education through tuition support is imperative for the creation of a stable workforce to meet the needs of underserved populations.

NAADAC also urges Congress to increase access to treatment for substance use disorders by allowing credentialed addiction counselors to be reimbursed under Medicare Part B and to perform critical services in Rural Health Clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers serving underserved and vulnerable populations.

It is essential that Congress reauthorize vital SAMHSA and HRSA mental health and substance use disorder programs, notably including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial program and the SAPT Block Grant. NAADAC also strongly supports renaming the SAPT Block Grant as the “Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant”. It is also paramount that Congress enacts reforms to give states the resources they need to enforce existing parity laws and also sunset the ability of self-funded, non-federal government health care plans that cover first responders, public school teachers, and other city and state workers to opt-out of protections provided by the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 (Federal Parity Act).

NAADAC opposes the SAFE Banking Act and does not support the legalization of cannabis. NAADAC finds no benefit to legalizing cannabis use since decriminalization alone will address many social injustices – specifically within the criminal justice system – and stimulate greater social change without the associated harm and cost. Legalization of cannabis and bills that support the cannabis industry, such as the SAFE Banking Act, cause this addictive drug to become more readily available, accessible, and affordable to the entire population, specifically vulnerable populations like those with predisposed addictive disorders and our nation’s youth.

NAADAC appreciates the steps Congress has already taken to address the needs of those suffering from substance use disorders and the workforce providing them with desperately needed care.