Bill would expand telehealth services for addiction treatment

Bill would expand telehealth services for addiction treatment

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House would expand telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment.

The Trump Administration waived regulatory restrictions for accessing care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act would make permanent these waivers.

The waivers allow patients to continue treatment and counseling virtually. If the act does not become law, the waivers will expire when the Public Health Emergency ends.

The act also would allow providers to prescribe drugs and Medication Assisted Therapies without needing a prior in-person visit and to bill Medicare for audio-only telehealth services. It also supports telehealth access in rural communities where broadband may be needed.

The bill was introduced by U.S. Reps. Ted Budd (R-NC), David Cicilline (D-RI), David B. McKinley (R-WV), and David Trone (D-MD).

“Overdoses are on the rise across the country due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ” McKinley said. “This bill would make it easier for those in both rural and urban areas to access vital addiction treatments. As we know, substance abuse disorders do not discriminate based on location, and patients should not have to choose between getting treatment and risking their health and safety to do so.”