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Addiction Treatment

SAMHSA Seeks Opioid Treatment Program Expansion

By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has opened public comments on a proposed federal regulatory update that would expand access to opioid treatment programs (OTPs).

The proposed revisions are diverse — everything from who can access treatment and when, who can prescribe treatment and when, new definitions of OTPs, and even refreshed language about addiction that is considered stigmatizing. If the rule changes become effective, patients with opioid use disorder can take home methadone, kickstart buprenorphine conversations via telehealth, and visit mobile medication units close to home.

“These proposed updates would address longstanding barriers to treatment in regulations, most of which have not been revised in more than 20 years,” said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, PhD, administrator of SAMHSA. “I am committed to moving these forward as quickly as possible because we have heard from both providers and patients how urgent the need is for treatment.”

In related news, earlier this month, the Senate Committee on Finance released its fifth and final draft discussion centered on mental health. Specifically, this draft focuses on improving mental health parity in Medicare and Medicaid and putting access to mental health and substance use disorder services on par with physical healthcare.

“Mental health services are a critical healthcare need as our nation recovers from the pandemic,” said Sen. Richard Burr, R-NC. “This discussion draft lays a foundation for advancing sensible policies that bring to the forefront the importance of ensuring patients have the information necessary to make the best healthcare decisions for themselves and their families.”

The other four draft discussions, all released in 2022, focused on telehealth policies, youth mental health, the mental health of healthcare workers, and integrating physical and mental health.

For more on this and related subjects, be sure to read the latest issues of Hospital Case Management and Hospital Employee Health.