By Barbara Goodheart, ELS
An article in our August-September newsletter on the rise in adolescent opioid-related deaths included recommendations from several government and medical sources—virtually all of them suggesting expanding access to medication to treat adolescents with opioid use disorder (OUD).
If passed, legislation introduced in the US Senate on November 1—the YOUTH Act—would do exactly that.
The YOUTH Act
The Youth Opioid Use Treatment Help (YOUTH) Act, introduced by Senators Gary Peters (D-MI) and Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va), would 1) renew a current substance abuse program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and 2) set up a demonstration program (see chart below) to help expand access to medication for adolescents.
“The opioid epidemic has devastated communities across the country, and it’s tragic that hundreds of thousands of young people suffering from opioid addiction are struggling to get the care they need,” Senator Peters said in a news release issued from his office. “This bipartisan bill would help hospitals and other health care providers expand lifesaving addiction treatments and care to adolescents and set them on a path toward recovery.”
“The opioid epidemic has had devastating effects on our state, especially when it comes to our West Virginia teens and young adults,” Senator Capito pointed out in a news release. She talked about the loss of an entire generation to the drug crisis, and added, “we have to take bold action to put an end to this tragic trend. The bipartisan YOUTH Act will help children and young adults access the resources they need to both treat and prevent addiction.”
|How Would Demonstration Programs Work?
Senate bill S.2055 and House bill H.R.5956, if enacted (which seems likely), will appropriate $5 million to award grants to eligible research entities. The grants would fund demonstration programs for treating adolescents and young adults with opioid use disorders (OUDs).
Targeting adolescents and young adults, the programs would—
Both bills also define the entities eligible to receive grants.
Initial funds would be granted for demonstration programs lasting not more than 3 years, with renewals based on yearly reviews and approvals.
Authorizations and Responsibilities
The YOUTH Act demonstration program would grant specified authorizations to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), one of 12 Agencies within the US Department of Health and Human Services. AHRQ supports research to help improve the quality of health care.
Under the YOUTH Act, the AHRQ would:
- Provide grants to hospitals, local governments, and other entities, to increase adolescents’ access to MAT
- Identify and test ways to overcome barriers to access
- Provide resources on MAT training and implementation
The legislation would task AHRQ with several responsibilities, among them:
- Receive regular progress reports from grantees
- Report to Congress on the availability of MAT for young adults and adolescents, the effectiveness of current treatment and prevention programs, the unintended consequences of programs, and ways to ensure that MAT is available to young people who need it
Endorsing the YOUTH Act are: American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of County and City Health Officials.
Adolescent Opioid-Related Deaths Are Soaring; We Can’t Wait “Until Things Get Worse”! http://atforum.com/2017/10/adolescent-opioid-related-deaths-are-soaring-we-cant-wait-until-things-get-worse/.
Capito, Peters Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Opioid Addiction Treatment for Adolescents. https://www.capito.senate.gov/news/press-releases/capito-peters-introduce-bill-to-expand-access-to-opioid-addiction-treatment-for-adolescents.
Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Miech RA, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. 2017. Monitoring the Future: National survey results on drug use, 1975-2016: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2017). Key substance use and mental health indicators in the United States: Results from the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. HHS Publication No. (SMA) 16-4984, NSDUH Series H-51. Rockville, MD: Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/.