100+ Drug Policy, Harm Reduction, Health Care, and Community Groups and Ohioans Call on Sens. Portman and Brown to Cosponsor MAT Act
MAT Act Will Save Lives – Over 5,000 Ohioans Died Due Preventable Overdoses in the Last Year
Columbus, OH — Today Nelsonville Voices and River Valley Organizing led over 100 drug policy, harm reduction, health care, and community groups and Ohioans across the state in sending a letter to Senators Portman and Brown calling on them to save lives and cosponsor the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. The MAT Act would prevent overdoses, increase access to treatment, and reduce stigma by removing redundant and outdated barriers for healthcare practitioners to prescribe life-saving medicines, like buprenorphine which is a form of medication-assisted treatment.
“The MAT Act is a no-brainer treatment that will save Ohioan lives,” River Valley Organizing’s Thomas Powell said. “We need our leaders to do just that – lead. We urge Senators Portman and Brown to treat the overdose crisis like the public health issue that it is, cosponsor this bill, and help push it over the finish line and onto the President’s desk.”
A recent United States Health and Human Services report found that over 70% of Ohio counties have a high need for opioid use disorder treatment. Despite that need, 40% of Ohio counties have low-to-no patient capacity for prescribing buprenorphine. Meanwhile twelve counties do not have a single provider who can prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder, leaving tens of thousands of people at risk of overdose. This lack of access to buprenorphine is contributing to growing overdose deaths across the state.
“Before I stopped using, I was sick all the time. When I got on buprenorphine, I was able to do way more than what I was able to do before,” explains Nelsonville Voices member Kerry Hathaway on why she has taken action to pass the MAT Act. “If people need help, I believe every doctor needs to be able to prescribe this medication. It is very important that people are monitored while they take it.”
The MAT Act is popular among voters. National polling data conducted earlier this year by People’s Action Institute and Data for Progress showed 79% of bipartisan voters support expanding access to medication-assisted treatments.
Read the full text of the letter and list of organizations who signed on here.
Nelsonville Voices is a grassroots organization made up of everyday people fighting for a better future for everyone, no matter who you are, what you look like, or how much money you make. Funded in part thanks to the Athens County Foundation.
River Valley Organizing is an organization of leaders committed to restorative and transformative solutions for public health and justice that DEFY the isolation of incarceration, the impacts of racialized drug policies, the desolation of environmental degradation, and violent policing; empowering and strengthening the health and morale for ALL!