AAMC Statement on House Introduction of Opioid Workforce Act of 2019

AAMC (Association of American Medical Colleges) President and CEO Darrell G. Kirch, MD, issued the following statement about the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019 (H.R. 2439), which was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and would support new residency positions to combat the opioid epidemic:

“As the United States continues to face an opioid epidemic that is devastating communities across the country, we commend Representatives Brad Schneider (D-Ill.), Susan W. Brooks (R-Ind.), Annie Kuster (D-N.H.), and Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) for introducing the Opioid Workforce Act of 2019. This bipartisan legislation would address the national crisis by ending a freeze in Medicare support and adding 1,000 graduate medical education positions over the next five years in hospitals that have, or are in the process of establishing, accredited residency programs in addiction medicine, addiction psychiatry, or pain management.

Physicians are a critical component of our nation’s health care infrastructure, and a real and significant physician shortage, that could reach nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032, is already limiting patient access to critical services. We also know that in 2016, more than 20 million adults needed substance use disorder treatment but only 11% received it. We must address the nation’s health care workforce challenges if we are to ensure every patient who seeks care has access to it.

Through their core missions of education, research, and clinical care, medical schools and teaching hospitals are actively advancing a comprehensive response to the opioid crisis, including preparing the next generation of health care professionals to address the epidemic. The addition of these targeted positions would increase the ability of these institutions to train more physicians who can treat patients with substance use disorders or chronic pain. This important legislation would strengthen our health care infrastructure by increasing the number of doctors serving on the front lines of the nation’s opioid epidemic.

We look forward to working with Congress to pass this bipartisan legislation and address the opioid crisis.”

The Association of American Medical Colleges is a not-for-profit association dedicated to transforming health care through innovative medical education, cutting-edge patient care, and groundbreaking medical research. Its members are all 154 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools; nearly 400 major teaching hospitals and health systems, including 51 Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers; and more than 80 academic societies. Through these institutions and organizations, the AAMC serves the leaders of America’s medical schools and teaching hospitals and their more than 173,000 full-time faculty members, 89,000 medical students, 129,000 resident physicians, and more than 60,000 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers in the biomedical sciences.