WASHINGTON, DC -- The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, a bipartisan bill cosponsored by Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Congressman Hal Rogers (R-KY), unanimously passed through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Responding to the nationwide opioid epidemic, the legislation offers student loan repayment of up to $250,000 for participants who agree to work as a substance use disorder treatment professional in areas most in need of their services. The bill now awaits a vote by the full House of Representatives.“Every new treatment professional we invest in could mean survival for someone’s child, parent, sibling, or friend who may not have had access to treatment otherwise. Communities across the nation are calling on Congress for solutions and this legislation provides the support needed to facilitate their recovery and health,” said Clark. “I am grateful for the Energy and Commerce Committee’s support of this legislation and hope to see leadership bring the legislation to the floor as soon as possible.”
“Each step we take toward improving access to treatment is a step toward saving more lives and helping restore families torn apart by substance abuse,” said Rogers. “It is abundantly clear that the opioid abuse epidemic requires a holistic approach to turn the tide of deadly overdoses, now taking the lives of 115 Americans every day. This bill will open the door for more students to be a part of the growing heroic team of treatment professionals so desperately needed across the country. I applaud the Energy and Commerce Committee’s swift action to bring this critical, time-sensitive legislation before the House for a vote.”
Experts report that 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.
To qualify for the program, participants must agree to be employed in a full-time substance use disorder treatment job in a high need area for up to six years. That job must involve serving in a direct patient care role and can include serving as a physician, registered nurse, social worker, recovery coach, or any other role listed in the bill. Participants may serve in a wide range of facilities, so long as they are located in an area with a shortage of mental health professionals or a high rate of drug overdose deaths. The bill gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services the flexibility to add eligible professions or facilities as the epidemic evolves.
Full text of the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act can be found here.