U.S. House Passes Spanberger’s Legislation to Increase Funding for Recruiting & Retaining Treatment Providers for Substance Use Disorder

Dec 12, 2023
Healthcare
Press

In 2021, A Key Loan Repayment Program for Addiction & Recovery Providers Received More Than 3,000 Applications, But the Program Could Only Support 255 Students

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bipartisan majority of the U.S. House today passed a bipartisan effort led by U.S. Representative Abigail Spanberger reauthorizing and increasing funding for the Substance Use Disorder Treatment and Recovery (STAR) Loan Repayment Program (LRP).

STAR LRP repays student loans up to $250,000 for participants who agree to serve as a full-time SUD treatment provider in underserved areas. In 2021, more than 3,000 applications were received — but the program only had enough funding to support 255 students. In 2022, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) projected a shortage of more than 24,000 behavioral health providers by 2030.

Passed as part of the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act, a Spanberger-led provision would encourage more professionals to enter the substance use disorder (SUD) treatment field. Specifically, her legislation would reauthorize STAR LRP for five years through fiscal year 2028 and increase the authorized funding amount from $25 million to $40 million. Earlier this year, Spanberger and U.S. Representative Hal Rogers (R-KY-05) introduced a bipartisan bill reauthorizing and increasing funding for STAR LRP.

“Virginia’s treatment and recovery professionals provide critical support to our neighbors during some of their darkest moments. They save lives and they save families — and they deserve to be fairly rewarded for their work,” said Spanberger. “By protecting STAR LRP and increasing its funding over the next five years, we are taking an important step in making sure those struggling with addiction and recovery have access to the help and support they need. I want to thank my colleague Congressman Rogers for his partnership on this critical issue for the long-term health, safety, and strength of our communities.”

Spanberger’s legislation — passed as part of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act — now heads to the U.S. Senate for further consideration.

Spanberger’s effort has received endorsements from more than 20 organizations — including the American Society of Addiction Medicine, National Behavioral Health Association of Providers, Faces and Voices of Recovery, National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers, NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals, American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine, Council on Recovery, American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, American College of Academic Addiction Medicine (ACAAM), American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, and many more. 

Spanberger has consistently worked to tackle the opioid epidemic and SUD crisis, support recovery services, and block deadly drugs — including illicit fentanyl — from entering Virginia’s communities, including:

  • Strengthening Virginia’s addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services. In December 2022, President Biden signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan Summer Barrow Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Act, which provides $900 million of support for programs that combat substance use disorder and addiction in the Commonwealth and across the country.
  • Cracking down on fentanyl trafficking at America’s borders and ports of entry. In December 2022, the President signed into law Spanberger’s bipartisan legislation — the Securing America’s Borders Against Fentanyl Act — to strengthen America’s response to fentanyl coming through the nation’s borders and ports of entry.
  • Giving law enforcement officers the tools and training they need. In May 2023, Spanberger introduced her bipartisan, bicameral legislation — the POWER Act — to provide state and local law enforcement with new devices to detect and identify dangerous drugs — including fentanyl. In June 2023, she spoke alongside the Prince William County Police Department to discuss this critical step to prevent overdoses. And earlier this year, she reintroduced her bipartisan legislation to crack down on narcotics traffickers who are using illicit pill presses to manufacture counterfeit drugs.
  • Fighting Tranq and holding drug traffickers accountable. In May 2023, Spanberger backed the Combating Illicit Xylazine Act, which would address the abuse of xylazine-adulterated fentanyl — also known as “tranq” — by empowering law enforcement to go after these criminals. Additionally, it would classify the illicit use of xylazine as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act.
  • Protecting Virginia children and teenagers from overdoses. Also in May 2023, Spanberger helped introduce bipartisan legislation to expand the availability of naloxone — also known as Narcan or Evzio — in Virginia schools. The Spanberger-backed School Access to Naloxone Act — modeled after the 2013 School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which supported the rollout of EpiPens nationwide — would incentivize the stocking of naloxone and training of staff on its safe administration in schools across the country.

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