Aetna ends preauthorization for opioid addiction treatment

Hartford, Conn.-based Aetna will remove preauthorization requirements for opioid abuse treatment for all of its private insurance plans beginning in March, an Aetna spokesperson confirmed to NPR

Aetna is the third major payer to change its preauthorization policy for opioid addiction treatment — Bloomfield, Conn.-based Cigna changed its policies in October 2016 and Indianapolis-based Anthem updated its policies last month.

Under the change, physicians will no longer be required to receive approval from Aetna to prescribe medications like Suboxone to treat opioid addiction.  

The American Medical Association commended Aetna's proposed policy change. Patrice Harris, MD, chair of the AMA board of trustees and chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, said "[p]atient lives will be saved by Aetna's decision to remove prior authorization for treatment of substance use disorders." 

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