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Access to medication-assisted treatment will increase under the new opioid bill

In October 2018, the president signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act,which addresses multiple aspects of the opioid crisis. Several provisions in the bill are slated to increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), in which buprenorphine or another medication is part of the treatment plan for substance use disorder. Specifically, the bill:

  • Temporarily requires coverage of MAT under Medicaid
  • Increases the maximum number of patients that healthcare professionals may initially treat with MAT (i.e., under a buprenorphine waiver), and eliminates the time limitation for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to become qualifying practitioners for MAT
  • Requires the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to develop an action plan to provide recommendations on changes to the Medicare and Medicaid programs to enhance the treatment and prevention of opioid addiction, as well as increase coverage and payment of MAT
  • Requires payment under Medicare to federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics that have health care practitioners who are newly certified to provide MAT