WASHINGTON, D.C. – At a time when the opioid epidemic is taking a terrible toll, the House of Representatives took an important step forward Friday by passing H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act by an overwhelming, bipartisan margin of 396-14. Section 303 of this massive bill makes permanent the authorization for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication-assisted treatments (MATs) and expands that authorization to include clinical nurse specialists, certified nurse midwives and certified registered nurse anesthetists for five years.
“More than 2 million Americans have an opioid use disorder, but less than 20 percent receive appropriate treatment,” said National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists (NACNS) Board President Anne Hysong, MSN, APRN, CCNS, ACNS-BC. “This is in part because millions of people live in counties without any MAT-waived provider. We are pleased to see our representatives take this step to harness the expertise of Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, including Clinical Nurse Specialists, to get more people the care and treatment they need. We urge the Senate to waste no time in passing this vitally important bill as well.”
NACNS recently published three position papers on opioids, including one on the role of the clinical nurse specialist in addressing this national public health emergency. Noting that clinical nurse specialists are ready to lead a thoughtful dialogue to support a balanced approach to safe acute and chronic pain management in a variety of settings, last year NACNS called for a multi-faceted approach that includes evidence-based pain management care, clinician education and systems-level changes to current practice.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids killed more than 33,000 people in 2015. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates 3.3 million Americans aged 12 or over misused prescription pain relievers in 2016.
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Founded in 1995, The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists is the only association representing the clinical nurse specialist (CNS). CNSs are advanced practice registered nurses who work in a variety of specialties to ensure high-quality, evidence-based, patient-centered care. As leaders in health care settings, CNSs provide direct patient care and lead initiatives to improve care and clinical outcomes, and reduce costs. NACNS is dedicated to advancing CNS practice and education, removing certification and regulatory barriers, and assuring the public access to quality CNS services.