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An OPEN MINDS Market Intelligence Report

On July 14, 2016 the U.S. Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2016 (CARA) and the Act was sent to the President’s desk to be signed into the law. The strategic implications of CARA could be the most comprehensive reform of addiction in decades and the first to treatment addiction as a disease rather than a crime. The law makes provisions for:

  1. Grants to state, local and non-profit organizations
  2. Research related to addiction
  3. Education campaigns
  4. Department of Veterans Affairs reforms
  5. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medication assisted treatment drugs in office setting

CARA makes several important policy and cultural shifts in how addiction is viewed and how it should be treated. First, the law emphasizes the treatment of addiction as a disease and not a crime. The Act provides grants that use treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Additionally, the law emphasizes and requires that addiction treatment be evidence-based and specifically includes MAT as a necessary treatment option.

However, it is unlikely that CARA goes far enough to address the current opioid crisis. The Act relies on grants to implement its goals, and the result will likely be patchy changes both geographically and in terms of available resources. Finally, there isn’t any actual funding for the law at this time and no guarantee of funding in the future.

This report includes information on:

  1. The grants available through the Act, activities funded under the grants, eligible recipients, and the expected appropriations for the grants
  2. The Medicare drug management program for at-risk beneficiaries
  3. Specific requirements for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine
  4. Addiction treatment reforms related to the Department of Veterans Affairs

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