Valadao, Carey, Kelly offer bill to address shortfall of doctors trained to treat addiction

U.S. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Mike Carey (R-OH), and Mike Kelly (R-PA) on Jan. 18 signed on as original cosponsors of bipartisan legislation that aims to tackle the nation’s opioid epidemic by getting more doctors trained to treat addiction.

The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act, H.R. 7050, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), would create 1,000 additional Medicare residency positions over five years in hospitals with addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management programs, according to a bill summary provided by the lawmakers.

“Our healthcare professionals are on the frontlines of battling this epidemic, but shortages in our healthcare workforce are making this fight even more challenging,” Rep. Valadao said. “The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act will help to increase the number of healthcare professionals trained in addiction and pain medicine so we can get folks the treatment they need to recover.”

To address the shortfall of doctors trained to treat addiction, H.R. 7050 specifically would expand Medicare graduate medical education, the summary says.

“Our legislation will expand the network of medical professionals available to fight this deadly scourge,” Rep. Carey said. “I’m proud to work in a bipartisan fashion to help deliver more resources and manpower to the frontlines of the opioid epidemic.”

Rep. Kelly pointed out that the opioid crisis is a national crisis that’s devastating families and communities all over the country.

“The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Act ensures Americans and their families battling this epidemic will be met with the proper healthcare workforce needed to provide treatment and care,” said Rep. Kelly. “I’m proud to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce this critical piece of legislation.”

Rep. Schneider added that the impact of the overdose crisis underscores the urgent need for doctors to treat addiction. 

“As our nation already faces a thinly stretched medical workforce, it can be even more difficult for those struggling with a substance use disorder to receive quality care,” he said. “I am confident this bipartisan legislation will educate more physicians with the latest training in addiction medicine and psychiatry to care for those in need.”

H.R. 7050 is supported by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American Hospital Association, the Illinois Hospital Association, and the American Medical Association.