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Casey Holds Hearing on Substance Use Disorders Among Older Adults

?Substance use disorder affects nearly four million older adults over age 65

Gaps remain in coverage of substanceuse disorder treatment—only 11 percent of Medicare beneficiaries with a substance use disorder received treatment

At hearing, Casey touted FEND Off Fentanyl Act

Washington, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging Chairman Bob Casey (D-PA) held a hearing entitled, “Understanding a Growing Crisis: Substance Use Trends Among Older Adults.” The hearing examined the increasing rates of substance use disorders (SUDs) among older adults, exploring the scope of the challenge, gaps in coverage and access to treatment and recovery, and limits in research that might be obscuring the problem. During the hearing, Senator Casey showcased a number of policy solutions, including his FEND Off Fentanyl Act, which will crack down on the chemical suppliers in China and the Mexican cartels that produce and bring fentanyl across the border and devastating families in Pennsylvania and around the Nation. Additionally, Senator Casey highlighted his Maximizing Opioid Recovery Emergency (MORE) Savings Act, which would eliminate cost-sharing for opioid treatment and recovery support services under private insurance plans and through a Medicare pilot program, and increase funding for Medicaid programs to offer these services.

“As we heard today, substance use disorders among older adults constitute a growing crisis nationwide as our aging population expands,” said Senator Casey. “Despite being more susceptible to developing substance use disorders, older Americans are often overlooked for typical screenings and prevention efforts. That cannot continue. I’ve made it a priority to ensure that older Americans have equal access to substance use disorder treatments. There is no reason why older Americans should be overlooked or face barriers to care when it comes to this growing crisis.”

Chairman Casey invited William Stauffer, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations—Alliance, to testify at the hearing. He testified, “We cannot solve problems we do not acknowledge. As a person in recovery for 38 years, is a poignant lesson life lesson when considering this topic. Older adult SUDs are not the focus of medical training. They are not a focus of social work training; they are not a focus in adult care homes or any of our systems of care. We have a long way to go. We need to acknowledge that as well. Our older adult family members, friends and community members who have SUDs need us to do so far more often, and then to fix our systems to help them heal.”

The full video of the hearing can be viewed here.