New Legislation Addressing Shortage of Professionals to Provide Recovery Services to Combat the Opioid Epidemic
U.S. Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) announced the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, bipartisan legislation that would address the ongoing shortage of professionals needed to provide treatment and recovery services as communities combat the opioid abuse epidemic. The bill would incentivize students to pursue substance use disorder work by providing them with student loan relief up to $250,000 if they work for six years in areas that have high overdose rates or a shortage of treatment providers. The program would be open to a number of providers including physicians, nurses, social workers, and behavioral health workers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), only 10 percent of the 22 million Americans with a substance use disorder receive treatment. This treatment gap is largely attributed to the shortage of workers in the substance use disorder field. A companion to this legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (MA-05) and Congressman Hal Rogers (KY-05).
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