Member Alert April 1: DEA Removes Barrier for Treating Opioid Use Disorder During COVID-19

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has issued guidance to DEA-registered physicians providing new flexibility for physicians managing patients with opioid use disorder. The new guidance permits physicians and other health professionals with a waiver allowing them to prescribe buprenorphine for the treatment of opioid use disorder to issue these prescriptions to new and existing patients based on an evaluation via telephone. The new policy is effective from March 31 for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

The full guidance is available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/sites/default/files/dea-samhsa-buprenorphine-telemedicine.pdf.

Telehealth Usage Increases Amid COVID-19; KMA Advocates for Additional Coverage from Insurers

The benefits of telehealth have become more apparent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Louisville Courier-Journal, KMA Executive Vice President Pat Padgett pressures insurance companies to cover telehealth services provided via telephone, in order to serve a greater number of patients who may lack access to video and audio technologies. That op-ed is available here.

The Courier-Journal also contains a piece by Deborah Yetter on the efforts providers have made to quickly ramp up their telehealth efforts in the face of the outbreak. The article features an interview with Kentucky Physicians Leadership Institute (KPLI) graduate Monalisa Tailor, M.D. It is available here.

KMA encourages physicians to visit its COVID-19 webpage, kyma.org/COVID19, for resources on utilizing telehealth within their practices. KMA has provided one-page handouts on the updated telehealth policies of various payors, including Medicaid, Medicare, Anthem, Aetna, Humana, Cigna and UnitedHealthcare, as well as guidance from CMS, HHS and SAMHSA.