On Oct. 26th, URAC joined 80 other organizations, led by the Alliance for Connected Care, is calling for the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to implement a telemedicine special registration. This registration process would enable providers to safely prescribe controlled substances remotely.
The nation’s response to COVID-19 has demonstrated the value of increased access to telemedicine to enable all qualified providers, including Community Mental Health Centers and addiction treatment facilities, to prescribe Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) to patients with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD).
The failure to have a registry to allow for providers of telemedicine services to prescribe is a failure of the bureaucracy. On October 24, 2018, President Trump signed into law the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (SUPPORT) Act. This legislation required the Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), to announce regulations specifying the circumstances for a special registration for telemedicine.
It has been a full two years since adoption of the SUPPORT Act and no meaningful progress has been made to further the execution of this critical policy.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 epidemic, the DEA, in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), decided to allow remote prescribing of controlled substances using telemedicine without a prior in-person exam, regardless of the patient’s location. While this update is vital to ensuring patients continue to have access to the care they require, such an emergency action is only required because the DEA and other federal agencies have failed to execute the requirements of the SUPPORT Act.
Given the worsening opioid overdose crisis, URAC and 80 stakeholder organizations urge the DEA to move forward with the telemedicine special registration process required by federal law that will enable SAMHSA waivered clinicians, Community Mental Health Centers and addiction treatment facilities to prescribe MAT to patients with OUD via telemedicine technology.