Summary and Analysis

Addiction doctors and telehealth companies are trying to get legislative approval to retain lose pandemic-era rules for prescribing people Suboxone or buprenorphine without a personal visit. The full Medication-Assisted Treatment model calls for medications to be administered to curb craving when a person stops using heroin. However, a key part of this model is that the medications are to be used “in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies.” (See the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s MAT definition).

These medical profession calls for general MD prescribing of MAT drugs, whether from in-person visits or otherwise, always omit how such a prescribing physician will also be able to provide the person “with counseling and behavioral therapies” as called for by SAMHSA. MD’s do not generally include in their practices counseling or behavioral therapy services for addiction. The push to expand MD prescribing of addiction drugs appears to be another emphasis on MAT as its own single pathway to recovery.

Excerpted from STAT

WASHINGTON — It got a lot easier for patients with opioid addiction to get their medication remotely during the pandemic — and now addiction doctors and telehealth companies are pushing Congress to make those flexibilities permanent.

Before Covid-19, patients had to see a doctor in person for prescriptions to help them with their addictions, like buprenorphine. Now, at least temporarily, they can get them via telehealth appointments.

Experts say loosening the rules helped eliminate longstanding barriers to addiction care, like a lack of transportation or a shortage of clinicians who prescribe medically assisted treatment, especially in rural communities. But the changes are temporary, tied to the state of “emergency” associated with the pandemic — and proponents want them made permanent.