Today the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) provided the Biden Administration with a host of recommendations designed to improve access to care and delivery of care. In a letter to the President, NAATP CEO, Marvin Ventrell, congratulated the Biden-Harris team on the election and made 21 specific recommendations on behalf of the treatment provider community.
Among the items listed were public policy changes that will improve access to care, including numerous ways to implement enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (Parity Act). As a US Senator, President Biden supported the Parity Act and promoted its inclusion in the Affordable Care Act as Vice President. Parity is a major NAATP priority and we anticipate substantial progress in the near future.
In the letter, Ventrell voiced strong support for the President’s plan to achieve health equity for people of color and underserved populations. We applaud the President’s decision to create an Office of Health Equity. Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusivity is also one of NAATP’s highest priorities.
Items addressing SUD treatment during the COVID-19 crisis were outlined. We asked that SUD treatment providers be given vaccine priority with all health care professionals. The adversities faced by treatment providers operating during the pandemic were detailed with a request for additional financial and PPE resources. Recommendations regarding continuation of telehealth were included.
While pointing out that the deadliest use disorder is related to alcohol, a number of recommendations were made to improve early detection and prevention of SUDs for all populations, particularly young Americans and seniors. Elimination of the Medicaid IMD Exclusion was listed, as were ways to ensure treatment quality. Improvements to SAMHSA’s referral system were also incorporated.
In order to accomplish these reforms, NAATP also suggested a re-focus of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). When originally created, this agency was designed to promote and coordinate policy across all federal agencies. While it has sometimes been more focused on interdiction and law enforcement, the potential exists for it to become an advocate for quality treatment and better access to care. We anticipate good progress from the new Administration in this regard.
During the transition period, NAATP met with members of the Biden-Harris team, and the CEO’s letter reflects the focus of those meetings and formalizes many of the recommendations made then. With the new President’s longstanding support of SUD treatment, NAATP is optimistic that real progress will be made toward NAATP policy objectives in the coming years.