State AGs to Congress: Eliminate these 3 barriers to opioid treatment

The National Association of Attorneys General on Aug. 5 sent a letter to members of Congress, urging them to remove federal treatment barriers for opioid use disorder, according to AHA News.

The letter, signed by 39 NAAG members, recommends Congress address the following three barriers to opioid treatment access:

1. Privacy rules. The attorneys general said Congress should "replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2," which outlines privacy standards for medical records detailing treatment of substance use disorder. They argue the complexity of these rules prevent many healthcare providers from even trying to offer patients medication-assisted treatment. The attorneys general said Congress should replace these privacy rules with those outlined in HIPAA, which providers are more familiar with.

2. Medication-assisted treatment regulations. The letter's authors said Congress should pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act and "eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000." The MAT Act would eliminate the requirement for providers to apply for a separate waiver from the Drug Enforcement Administration to be able to prescribe buprenorphine.

3. Medicaid reimbursement policies. The attorneys general also urged Congress to repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion, which prevents state Medicaid programs from receiving reimbursements for mental health or substance use disorder treatment provided to adult patients at residential treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. They said this policy "has proven to detrimentally limit states' ability to provide the full continuum of clinically appropriate care for Medicaid enrollees with substance use disorder."

To view the full letter, click here.

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