Attorney General Doug Peterson has sent a letter to Congressional leadership asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opiod use disorder. The letter has been led by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter and has now been signed by 39 attorneys general. An estimated 2 million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder and currently several federal barriers make it difficult for individuals with the disorder to receive treatment.
The letter outlines three of these areas that need to be addressed:
- Replace the privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);
- Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and
- Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between the ages of 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.
Nebraska is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The full letter to Congressional Leadership can be found below.