Sen. Portman praises HHS decision to allow more doctors to prescribe MAT drugs

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) praised the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ decision to lift requirements on physicians to prescribe drugs to help patients struggling with addiction medication-assisted treatments (MAT) like buprenorphine.

“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a heartbreaking surge in overdose deaths, which is why it is essential that we remove outdated barriers to care so that patients fighting addiction can get the treatments they need. To that end, I am pleased that HHS has announced that it is ending the requirement for physicians to obtain an ‘X’ waiver before being allowed to prescribe buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder. This waiver has for too long placed unnecessary restrictions on health care professionals being able to provide patients fighting addiction with the medication-assisted treatment that many need to overcome addiction and achieve long-term recovery. Now, all physicians will be able to more easily prescribe patients with this important medication as part of their treatment plan.”

Nearly a week ago, HHS announced it would eliminate the x-waiver requirement for DEA-registered physicians as a way to expand access to MAT. The rule published in “Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder” would exempt physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder.

“HHS lifting the ‘X’ waiver requirement builds on policy changes included in my bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which raised the number of patients to which a physician was allowed to provide MAT from 30 to 100, and gave nurse practitioners and physician assistants the ability to administer this kind of essential care under a physician’s supervision. Our upcoming CARA 2.0 legislation, which builds on the successes of CARA, includes a provision to permanently remove the ‘X’ waiver, as well as implement strong physician education requirements so that physicians are trained to respond to addiction issues broadly,” Portman said.

Liz Carey

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