Opioid Package Elevates Role of PAs in Opioid Crisis

Alexandria, VA (Sept. 28, 2018) – Today, the U. S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 6, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018. This legislation represents a compromise between the House and Senate, which previously passed separate opioid packages. It is expected to be considered by the Senate in the coming days and then move to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

A critical provision contained in the legislation will make permanent a previously created five-year program that allows physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) to obtain federal waivers to prescribe buprenorphine—a leading Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT)—for the treatment of opioid use disorder (OUD). The provision will also further expand the list of providers eligible to obtain such waivers by creating a five-year authorization for certified nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse anesthetists. Following its passage, the American Academy of PAs (AAPA) released the following statement:

“AAPA applauds Congress for including this crucial provision as part of comprehensive legislation aimed at stemming the tide of the U.S. opioid epidemic,” said Jonathan E. Sobel, DMSc, MBA, PA-C, DFAAPA, FAPACVS, president and chair of the AAPA Board of Directors. “More than 115 opioid-related deaths occur every day. This legislation is vital to expanding access to life-saving MAT treatment by ensuring that qualified health care providers—including PAs and NPs—have the critical tools they need to treat patients affected by the opioid epidemic. PAs are well-positioned to do their part.”