The US is living through an epidemic of drug abuse that has tremendous consequences on the nation’s well-being. The issue is currently being addressed through different bills that touch upon opioid regulations and improvements in healthcare. Substance use disorder (SUD) is a condition that nursing specialists meet in daily practice. The present paper offers a review of the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act (The Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act, H.R. 5102, Cong, 2018) and describes its implications to nursing practice.
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Summary of the Act
The Act is a legislation that offers loan repayment to students who decide to become a professional treating SUD in areas most in need of their services. The bill provides up to $250,000 in reimbursements for participants who sign a contract of up to 6 years of full-time employment as a SUD treatment specialist (The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act, 2018). The bill offers benefits to all healthcare professions, including physicians, nurses, and social workers.
To become eligible for the subsidy, a student must begin practice in mental health professional shortage areas specified in The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act (2018) and in counties where the number of drug overdose cases surpasses the national average. In short, The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act is an attempt to address the growing concern over SUD in the US.
Background and History
The legislature emerged as a measure for a growing need for specialists in the SUD field. Experts report that there are more than 22 million Americans in need of treatment and only 10 percent of the patients receive appropriate care (Rogers, Clark workforce loan repayment bill advances in House, 2018). The issue is mostly due to medical specialists choosing a different field of practice. As a reaction to the situation, congressional representatives Clark and Rogers developed the legislature and introduced it on February 27, 2018 (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress: Substance use disorder workforce loan repayment act of 2018, 2018).
The bill passed the House of Representatives on June 12, 2018, unanimously and was directed to the Senate (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress, 2018). At present, the legislation is still active; however, the chances of it being enacted are low, as it has been incorporated in another bill.
The bill is similar to two other bills introduced in 2018 and has partially been enacted through other measures. In March 2018, an identical bill, S. 2524, was introduced to the House of Representatives. Moreover, the SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act has been incorporated with some changes into the Support for Patients and Communities Act that was presented on June 13, 2018, and signed by the President on October 26, 2018 (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress, 2018). Therefore, the probability of the SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act passing the Senate is only 16% and dropping (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress, 2018) In short, the central issue stalling the bill is that it has already been enacted through related legislation.
While the bill finds only limited support in the House and the Senate, it is prevalent among the public. Instead of passing individual laws, the US Congress united to create a composite measure to respond to the situation in healthcare. The result of the collaboration was there emerged the Support for Patients and Communities Act, which has drawn most of the votes in the House from the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act. Therefore, the majority of the U.S. Congress, excluding congressional representatives Clark and Rogers, do not support the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act.
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At the same time, H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress (2018) shows that the public’s reaction to the initiative is positive, while the Support for Patients and Communities Act finds citizens’ disapproval. In short, even though the Substance Use Disorder Workforce Loan Repayment Act passed the House unanimously, it has lost its supporters in the U.S. Congress due to being partially enacted through related legislation.
Key Stakeholders and Their Positions
The key stakeholders are the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the young specialists in SUD, and the patients in need of treatment for drug addiction. According to the public vote, all the stakeholders seem to agree that the SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act is a sensible measure to address the problem of SUD (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress, 2018). The U.S. Congress acknowledged the position of the stakeholders and enacted a related bill, which copied the provisions of the SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act.
The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act and Nursing
The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act directly affects nursing practice, as it addresses the issue of nurse understaffing through indirect measures. One of the central problems of nursing is the lack of professional personnel in the sphere. The bill provides financial support for a student choosing the nursing profession, which may positively influence the number of people choosing nursing as their profession.
The increased number of practitioners may ease the pressure on the registered nurses and help them to provide safe and quality care. To assist with the passage or defeat of the legislation, nurses can share their opinion through social media, votes on Gov.Track.us, engage in the activity of a healthcare organization that supports the bill, or contact the legislator directly. In short, nurses may want to help the legislation by any means stated above, as the SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act can benefit their practice.
The SUD Workforce Loan Repayment Act is a measure to address the problem of SUD and healthcare professionals understaffing. It provides the addition of $125 million in new spending through 2028 (H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress, 2018). In conclusion, while all the stakeholders and the public support the bill, there is a little chance of it passing the Senate, as it has been enacted via other measures.
H.R. 5102 — 115th Congress: Substance use disorder workforce loan repayment act of 2018. (2018). Gov.Track.us. Web.