Happy 2015, Everyone. I want to thank you for entrusting me with the presidency of TNSAM for my 2-year term which just ended. I want to wish Dr. Alex Zotos all the best as he assumes the leadership of this strong and commendable organization. I also wish to welcome our newest members to TNSAM: Kenneth Trzil, Jonesborough, Tennessee; Joseph Radawi, Jonesborough; Tony Yost, Greeneville; Brandon Coffey, Oneida; Stephen Averett, Linden; Richard Bowie, Johnson City; and Rikki Halavonich, Knoxville, Tennessee. I hope to see each of you at our annual meeting in April in Austin, Texas.
Allow me to review just a few of our 2013-2014 accomplishments. First we formulated the PEACE agenda:
- Parity – equality in access, benefits, coverage, respect, and treatment
- Education – of public, legislators, physicians in training and those in practice
- Advocacy – advancing the stature and recognition of the specialty
- Communication – facilitating the spread of ideas among members and the public
- Evidence-based practice – improve the quality of addiction treatment through research and education
Towards accomplishing these goals, I and others have made many trips to Nashville. We have witnessed remarkable acceptance, respect and inclusion in the legislative processes that affect us. We have worked with the TMA and others to promote legislative proposals that include the Addiction Treatment Act of 2015. This bill seeks to provide Good Samaritan protections for an individual who is having a drug overdose or in good faith seeks medical assistance for a person experiencing or believed to be experiencing a drug overdose. Second, the bill codifies the prescribing of buprenorphine/naloxone to physicians with a DEA “X” number and only in doses and diagnoses which the FDA has approved for the use of the drug. The final piece of the bill repeals a section of the code that allows an insurer to refuse payment to a provider if the patient seeks treatment and it is determined that the patient is under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs. The Tennessee Society of Addiction Medicine has worked closely with the TMA to promote patient safety and patient access to the best available addiction treatment. This legislation is an important step in the right direction. Treatment decisions on the use of FDA-approved medications for addiction should be made only by skilled physicians, as is true in any of the specialties.
We have witnessed Federal advances in patient care access with the Affordable Care Act and with parity from implementation of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.
We have held very successful CME activities, including our third TNSAM Addiction Medicine Conference and the ASAM-sponsored CO*RE/ASAM ER/LA Opioid REMS: Achieving Safe Use While Improving Patient Care course. We have held chapter meetings at ASAM’s Med-Sci Annual Conferences. We have created and maintained our website at http://www.tnsam.org. We have revived our charter with the state, and rewritten and approved our by-laws and constitution. We have successfully fought and defeated legislative efforts that would have harmed our efforts to provide proper care to those with substance use disorders. There’s more, but enough is enough.
Mostly I want to share my thanks and appreciation to each of you for all that you do every day for the addiction community. I am your past-president now, but I plan to continue to assist Dr. Zotos where I can, and continue to fight the good fight for addiction medicine and the patients we serve.
John Standridge, MD, FAAFP, FASAM
Past-president. Tennessee Society of Addiction Medicine