President Trump recently signed a new bill into law designed to help curb the opioid epidemic.

This bill, H.R. 6, the Substance Use Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018, includes a wide variety of measures designed to address opioid abuse – from prevention to treatment.

Expanded Access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Opioid Addiction

One of the most notable aspects of H.R. 6 is a provision that makes it easier for care providers to prescribe buprenorphine. As a result of this new law, physician assistants (PAs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) can now receive federal waivers allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine. Other care providers including nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists and nurse anesthetists will be able to access a special five-year authorization to prescribe buprenorphine as well.

By expanding access to one of the most impactful forms of Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid abuse, more Americans will be able to reduce their physical dependence on the drug and suppress symptoms of withdrawal.

In addition to these notable provisions, a few other prominent changes being introduced by this bill are included below.

Enhanced Financial Support for Clients

Sec. 1001 At-risk youth Medicaid protection.

This provision protects Medicaid insurance coverage when juveniles are incarcerated. Previously, it was automatically terminated in some states.

Sec. 1002 Health insurance for former foster youth.

This requires states to maintain Medicaid coverage for foster youth until they reach the age of 26, even if they move out of state.

Expanded Access to Care

Sec. 1009 Medicaid substance use disorder treatment via telehealth.

While the practice of telehealth has been increasing in recent year, adoption rates have lagged behind other specialties in the field of addiction treatment. This section of the bill is designed to expand the use of telehealth in the treatment of substance use disorders for Medicaid beneficiaries.

Sec. 2001 Expanding the use of telehealth services for the treatment of opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders.

Currently, there are some requirements that limit the delivery of telehealth by placing certain restrictions on the location of the provider delivering services. This part of the bill actually eliminates some of the statutory site requirements associated with care provided to Medicare beneficiaries as of July 1, 2019.

These are just a few of the many sweeping, positive changes that are being introduced as the result of this bill. By expanding access to care and helping individuals get the financial support they need to undergo treatment for substance abuse, communities across the nation can become stronger and healthier as a result.

If you’re a behavioral health and human services provider in the field of addiction treatment, you know that data is playing a larger role in treatment planning. Take a few moments to watch this webinar recording, The Art and Science of Treatment Planning. During this presentation, Christy Winter, Manager of Clinical Informatics and Outcomes at Qualifacts, talks about optimizing outcomes by synthesizing data through the treatment planning process.

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