Attorneys General Target Federal Barriers To Addiction Treatment

Aug 6, 2019

Thirty-nine state attorneys general Monday sent a letter to Congress seeking to remove federal barriers to opioid addiction treatment.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said medication-assisted treatment has helped many people in their opioid addiction and that “there are some unfortunate hurdles in federal law.”

The letter addresses some of those hurdles. 

It requests removing the lengthy application process required before a physician can prescribe buprenorphine, a medication to treat opioid addiction. 

It also requests permanently eliminating the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease exclusion. The IMD exclusion prevents the federal government from paying for psychiatric treatment for adults at residential facilities with more than 16 beds.

A recent piece of legislation put a five-year exception on the IMD exclusion, allowing up to 30 days of treatment a year, but Fox said they’re hoping to go further.

“These are things that only Congress can fix,” he said. “And so, we think it’s important that both parties work together and make these changes as soon as possible, ‘cause frankly the stakes are pretty high.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, almost 68 percent of the roughly 70,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. were related to opioids in 2017.