Press Releases

U.S. House Approves Two Herrera Beutler Bills Aimed at Expanding Treatments for Mental Health and Substance Use Issues

Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act and Collaborate in an Orderly and Cohesive Manner Act included in larger mental health and addiction-related legislative package approved by U.S. House

The U.S. House last night approved two pieces of legislation championed by Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03) to help extend life-saving addiction treatment and mental health resources for residents in Southwest Washington and across the country. The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act and Collaborate in an Orderly and Cohesive Manner (COCM) Act were rolled into a larger mental health and addiction-related legislative package approved by the U.S. House.

“Mental health and substance use issues continue to profoundly impact communities in Southwest Washington and across our nation,” Herrera Beutler said. “As a co-chair of the Bipartisan Addiction and Mental Health Task Force, I’m continuing to press for commonsense solutions that address these issues, and I’m pleased the House took action and advanced these bipartisan bills to extend life-saving treatment for folks who may be struggling with addiction or mental health issues.” 

 Legislation details:

Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act:

This legislation would eliminate a bureaucratic requirement – known as the “x-waiver” – that currently limits millions of health care professionals from prescribing a safe and proven treatment, Buprenorphine, to treat patients with opioid addiction.

Background: A National Institutes of Health study showed France's opioid overdose deaths declined by nearly 80 percent over a four-year period after France took similar measures to make buprenorphine prescriptions possible without a waiver. 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, over 40% of counties in the U.S. do not have a physician who is licensed to prescribe this life-saving treatment option. 

 

Collaborate in an Orderly and Cohesive Manner (COCM) Act:

This legislation invests in the Collaborative Care Model, a specific care delivery model that integrates behavioral health care and physical health care together for the treatment of mental health conditions that require regular follow-up, like depression, anxiety, and substance abuse within the primary care setting.  The Collaborative Care Model has been studied in more than 90 published trials, showing in many different settings and circumstances that the model improves patient outcomes, lowers total costs of care, and delivers better care at scale.

Specifically, the COCM Act would do the following:

  • Create a new grant program for primary care practices to implement the Collaborative Care Model: Many primary care practices operate on thin financial margins with limited support staff, making implementing a new delivery model difficult.  Implementing the Collaborative Care Model in a private practice often requires upfront expenses and financial risk that can alienate smaller, rural, and independent practices.  The COCM Act:  
    • Provides grants to primary care physicians and practices that can be used to hire necessary staff, formalize relationships with other team members, and purchase or upgrade software and resources needed to implement collaborative care;
    • Gives preference to physicians and practices with the least existing capacity to implement collaborative care; and
    • Prioritizes physicians and practices that serve medically underserved populations.
  • Establish national and regional Collaborative Care Technical Assistance Centers to assist practices with the direct implementation of integrated care models: Many primary care physicians are unsure of how to appropriately implement the Collaborative Care Model, but national and regional organizations are well equipped to provide technical assistance to aid in implementation.  This legislation would provide grants to establish national and regional Technical Assistance Centers to help primary care practices implement the model in their practices.  The Technical Assistance centers would help do the following:
    • Develop staffing models for essential staff roles;
    • Provide information technology expertise to help with patient registries, electronic health records, ongoing monitoring, and other IT purposes;
    • Provide operational consultation to develop practice workflows;
    • Develop financial models for program launch and sustainability; and
    • Share best practices and lessons learned. 
  • Expand research on promising integrated care models: While the Collaborative Care Model has by far the most research supporting its use among all integrated care, other models have shown promise and more research is needed to identify the best models.  These integration models represent important efforts to improve the care of behavioral conditions in primary care and have added value by supporting primary care practitioners.