Lawmakers praise telemedicine provision in opioid bill, but say rural broadband is needed

The Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, which is included in Congress' opioid package, would allow physicians to remotely prescribe drugs used to treat opioid addiction, The Hill reports.

Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., said the move would make it easier to fight the epidemic. "This will give the opportunity for physicians, through telemedicine, to actually prescribe controlled substances such as what we use in medication-assisted treatment," he said at an event on telehealth hosted by The Hill.

The legislation lifts the requirement that physicians must first establish an in-person relationship before using telemedicine to treat opioid addiction. By allowing physicians to offer MAT via telemedicine, patients in underserved or rural areas would have access to additional treatment options.

However, Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Calif., told The Hill that access to broadband must be expanded so that patients have strong enough internet connectivity for telemedicine. Broadband can be used in rural areas not only to promote "healthcare they need and deserve, but for economic development also," Ms. Matsui said.

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