Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery wants federal officials to remove barriers that he says prevent health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.
Slatery said this in a letter to Congressional leaders in both chambers, alongside attorneys general from 38 other states.
“This loss of life and these major health consequences are matched by significant and continuing costs imposed on our criminal justice and social service systems. And the economic cost of the opioid crisis exceeded $500 billion in 2015 – equal to 2.8 percent of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) that year – according to the White House Council of Economic Advisers,” according to the letter.
“We all understand that effective treatment is key to saving lives and helping to stop this epidemic. In particular, research shows that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies – is a highly effective approach to the treatment of opioid use disorders.”
The letter outlined three areas that Slatery and the other attorneys general said need addressing:
• Replace what officials call “cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.”
• Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which Slatery and other said “would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000.” Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment for opioid use disorder. Officials said “outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it.”
• Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. Officials said “the IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.”
Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.
According to a press release, Tennessee is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, and many other states.
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