Draft legislation introduced by Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS) this week aims to increase access to medication-assisted addiction treatment in underserved areas through the use of telemedicine.
The bipartisan discussion draft, “Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment,” was considered as part of the House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee hearing on ways to fight the opioid epidemic this week.
The draft legislation would amend the Controlled Substances Act that bans the delivery, distribution and dispensation of certain drugs online without a valid prescription. Currently, state-licensed hospitals and clinics that have registered with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are authorized to offer a virtual prescription system to their patients. This proposed legislation would enable certain community health centers to gain the same authorization.
“Access to treatment continues to be a major hurdle in many communities fighting the opioid crisis,” Congresswoman Matsui said in a statement. “This legislation encourages the use of technology to overcome barriers to behavioral healthcare access. I look forward to continuing to work with Congressman Harper to advance one step in what should be a comprehensive approach in Congress. We must also provide significant funding towards prevention and continue our support for Medicaid, which is playing a critical role in combatting substance use disorder across the country.”
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