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NAAG Sends Letter to Congressional Leadership Urging Removal of Federal Barriers to Treat Opioid Use Disorder

For Release: August 5, 2019 

Contact: Allison Gilmore | 202-326-6047 | agilmore@naag.org

Twitter: @NatlAssnAttysGn

Washington, D.C. --- The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) has sent a letter to congressional leadership in both chambers, asking for the removal of federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and the inability to control opioid use despite its negative impacts.

The letter, which was signed by 39 state attorneys general, outlines three areas that need to be addressed: 

  • Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability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 Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and  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 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds. 

“We all understand that effective treatment is key to saving lives and helping to stop this epidemic. In particular, research shows that Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) – the use of medications, in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies – is a highly effective approach to the treatment of opioid use disorders,” reads the letter.

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The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) was founded in 1907 to help attorneys general fulfill the responsibilities of their office and to assist in the delivery of high-quality legal services to the states and territorial jurisdictions.

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