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FAH Statement | Prescription Drugs | FAH Policy Blog Team

FAH Highlights to Congress Effective Ways to Combat Opioid Epidemic

FAH sent a letter today to leaders on the House Ways and Means Committee highlighting policy changes that would help in battling the opioid epidemic.

Reps. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Richard Neal (D-MA), Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Sander Levin (D-MI) recently asked stakeholders to share their thoughts on ways to fight the crisis.

“We appreciate the opportunity to offer our insight on the role hospitals are playing in meeting the challenges of the crisis and on what additional tools and policies are likely to be helpful in both preventing and treating opioid addiction and the acute and long-term medical needs that stem from their misuse,” FAH President and CEO Chip Kahn wrote.

The letter begins by pointing out that hospitals are on the frontlines of the crisis – partnering with community groups to address the crisis and also looking for alternative approaches to treating pain.

FAH also draws attention to policy changes that could address the issue, including:

Health Insurance Coverage Fundamental to Addressing Crisis  

Data shows that sustaining and growing the gains in health insurance coverage is essential to connecting those in need with critical services. It is important that the Essential Health Benefits requirements remain in place and cover benefits for addiction treatment. FAH also recommended removing Medicaid restrictions on Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD), which would increase the availability of appropriate care.

Expanded Data Sharing Among Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) Needed

FAH outlined its reasons for supporting expanding data sharing among PDMPs, including with CMS and other health care entities.

“Consistent, real-time, standardized PDMP's, accessible to health systems in addition to providers or pharmacists, can lead to increased monitoring and reporting that effects changes in opioid-related outcomes such as opioid prescribing behavior, opioid diversion and supply, opioid misuse, and opioid-related morbidity and mortality.”

The letter also lays out solutions to the potential barriers to expanded sharing among PDMPs.

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Important

“Broader integration of MAT in the primary care setting in conjunction with increases in the number of SUD treatment facilities expands access to treatment and reduces stigma.  Recent legislation has vastly increased coverage of SUD treatment in primary care, raising the importance of identifying best practices.”

Telehealth Offers Pathway to Services

“By breaking down barriers to treatment (e.g., distance), telehealth can assist in connecting patients to qualified providers.  Given the breadth of the crisis, it is important that we use all available pathways to treatment.”

Allow Treating Providers to Access Their Patients' Substance Use Disorder Records

Legislators should consider steps needed to “align the 42 CFR Part 2 requirements with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements to allow the use and disclosure of SUD records from a federally assisted program for “treatment, payment, and health care operations” without prior written authorization… Using the HIPAA requirements would improve patient care by enabling providers with a patient relationship to access their patient's entire medical record.”

The letter concludes by expressing FAH's desire to work with Members of Congress on ways to address the opioid epidemic.

You can find the complete letter here.