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House Subcommittee Advances Health IT Opioid Bills

April 30, 2018
by Heather Landi
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The House Energy and Commerce Health subcommittee on Wednesday passed a slate of bills aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid crisis, and many of the bills involved electronic health records (EHRs) and telemedicine. The bills will now go to the full committee for a vote.

The bills passed include H.R. 4841, the Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act of 2018authored by Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ). The proposed legislation improves the prior authorization of medications in the Medicare program by streamlining the prior authorization process and ensuring legitimate beneficiary access to prescribed medications while preventing misuse and abuse of medication under prior authorization, such as many opioids.

Another bill, H.R. 3528, the Every Prescription Conveyed Securely Act, authored by Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), would require Medicare Part D to cover e-prescription of controlled substances. H.R. 3331 would amend the Social Security Act to promote testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified EHR technology. And, H.R. 5009, or Jessie’s Law, would clarify when a patient's history of opioid abuse would be included in certain health records.

Telemedicine-related opioid bills among the bills passed include H.R. 5603, the Access to Telehealth Services for Opioid Use Disorders Act, authored by Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), which provides the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to waive certain Medicare telehealth requirements in the case of certain treatment of an opioid use disorder or co-occurring mental health disorder. The Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act of 2018 would amend the Controlled Substances Act to clarify the eligibility of certain community mental health centers to register for purposes of the practice of telemedicine. And, H.R. 5483, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act of 2018, would specify the circumstances in which a special registration may be issued to a practitioner to engage in the practice of telemedicine.

Health IT Now issued a statement praising the House subcommittee’s passage of the health IT opioid bills. Executive Director Joel White said in the statement, Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance thanks Chairman Burgess and members of the subcommittee for their work to advance these policy solutions that will leverage the power of technology to save innocent lives from the scourge of opioid misuse. These measures earned the Alliance's support because they fill an unmet need and have been shown to actually work. The Subcommittee-passed telehealth bill, for example, is crucial because more than half of U.S. counties lack access to a single practicing behavioral health worker. Meanwhile, the e-prescribing legislation advanced yesterday would help thwart fraudulent scripts while generating billions in savings to taxpayers that can be reinvested in the fight against this devastating public health crisis.”

White further said in his statement, “Health IT Now calls upon Chairman Walden and members of the full committee to quickly pass these commonsense reforms without delay and to continue their work on other needed measures, including comprehensive legislation to deliver real-time, in-workflow data to clinicians across states as well as reforms to the flawed 42 CFR Part 2 law that will better empower prescribers with a full picture of a patient’s treatment history.”

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