On December 29, 2022, the federal Omnibus bill containing the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act was finally signed into law, officially eliminating the outdated X-waiver and making medication assisted treatment more accessible for our loved ones in New Jersey and across the entire country! Take a minute to celebrate, huge federal wins like this don’t happen every day, and this is life-changing and life-saving stuff.
Before the MAT Act, discriminatory limitations on prescribing buprenorphine imposed by the X-waiver allowed only 1 in 12 health care providers to prescribe this life saving medication to patients with substance use disorder. Removing it means removing a big barrier to preventing overdose and supporting recovery.
Getting here has been a long road. NJOP has been fighting for this solution since 2020 with organizations across the country as a part of the People’s Action Overdose Crisis Cohort. Together we’ve built the people power we needed through monthly strategy meetings, online actions, sharing our stories in the press, and holding dozens of meetings with our Congressional representatives to make them understand that passing this law will save lives. And we showed up Jersey strong – when the House passed it last spring, we even got a personal shout out from Congressman Frank Pallone, the Chair of the House’s Energy & Commerce Committee and one of our main Congressional champions on this bill.
The Overdose Crisis Cohort released a report on how we made this momentous win happen. Read it here to learn more about how we worked together with communities across multiple state lines to make this victory happen.
“In May, the MAT Act came up for a vote in the House Energy & Commerce Committee. After over a year of organizing and pressure, cohort member New Jersey Organizing Project was able to get a commitment from Committee Chairperson Frank Pallone (NJ-6) to move this bill as part of a bipartisan bill package, the Restoring Hope for Mental Health and Wellbeing Act. This was the first time that the MAT Act made it out of committee.”
Along the way, we’ve fought to ensure that paramedics in NJ could administer buprenorphine to reverse overdose, led an action to expand medication-assisted treatment, and worked closely with our state and local legislators to push the MAT Act forward, along with other crucial pathways to recovery. We got every New Jersey Representative to vote for or cosponsor the MAT Act, and rallied our neighbors across New Jersey to show up in support and spread the word about how MAT saves lives.
None of this would have happened without each of us (you, me, and everyone in this fight) standing up and speaking out to get themselves, their loved ones, and their communities the tools we need to end the overdose crisis. Thank you so much for everything you do.
Elizabeth Burke-Beaty, a New Jersey Organizing Project Organizer on the Not 0ne More team, and the Founding Executive Director of Sea Change Recovery Community Organization talks about the importance of this victory, and how we got here:
“The New Jersey Organizing Project is thrilled to announce that the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, passed through the FY23 Omnibus spending package, is now law. The passage of the MAT Act will increase access to proven treatments for those with opioid use disorder by removing administrative barriers that blocked healthcare providers from being able to prescribe buprenorphine, a life saving treatment for people facing opioid addiction. This is a game changer for the people we love who suffer from substance use disorder, from our kids, to our neighbors, siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends. This bill is especially important in a year where nearly 3,000 people in New Jersey, and 108,000 across the country, have died of a preventable overdose. We’ve seen that when the right medication is made accessible to someone struggling with substance use, it can make all the difference in aiding them to live a healthy life in recovery.
NJOP is proud to end 2022 one step closer to ending the overdose crisis. We’re especially grateful to Congressman Pallone and Congressman Kim for their tireless work to get this bill over the finish line during the last two years. We’re also thankful to every member of NJ’s House and Senate delegations for co-sponsoring this bill. NJOP joined the fight for the MAT Act with our national partners at People’s Action’s Overdose Crisis Cohort, where across the country, grassroots power organizations have been fighting to save the lives of our friends and communities. Through meetings with elected officials, community events, call-in days and public action, members of Congress across the political spectrum listened to us as we stressed the importance of this bipartisan solution. This victory proves the power of organizing people to improve the lives of themselves and their communities. We will celebrate this win but will keep fighting for more, because all of our loved ones deserve the opportunity to recover with dignity and respect.”