Senators urge new rule to combat opioid crisis in rural areas

Senators urge new rule to combat opioid crisis in rural areas
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Three senators are urging the Trump administration to quickly issue a new rule that would aim to increase access to opioid addiction treatment in rural areas.

Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillConservative group calls for ethics probe into McCaskill’s use of private plane Senate moderates hunt for compromise on family separation bill Election Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral MORE (D-Mo.) and Alaska’s two Republican senators — Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiIcebreaking ships are not America’s top priority in the Arctic 13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Trump plan to claw back billion in spending in peril MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanIcebreaking ships are not America’s top priority in the Arctic Overnight Energy: Senate panel sets Pruitt hearing | Colorado joins California with tougher emissions rules | Court sides with Trump on coal leasing program Pruitt to testify before Senate panel in August MORE — are requesting the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issue a new regulation that would let certain health-care providers obtain a special registration letting them use telemedicine to prescribe medication for an opioid addiction.

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“The bar on telemedicine prescribing of anti-addiction medication will continue to impact rural Americans, who often live far from dedicated treatment centers and mental health professionals,” the senators wrote in a letter Tuesday to DEA acting Administrator Robert Patterson.

Under current law, doctors can’t prescribe medication for an opioid addiction without an in-person medical evaluation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCNN analyst Kirsten Powers: Melania's jacket should read 'Let them eat cake' CNN's Cuomo confronts Lewandowski over 'womp womp' remark Sessions says FBI agent Peter Strzok no longer has his security clearance MORE, in late October, declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency, which was recently extended for another 90 days.

The senators note that in making the declaration, Trump “specifically supported” expanding telemedicine services, such as letting providers prescribe medication-assisted treatment remotely. This was included in a White House fact sheet on the declaration.

“The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), however, has yet to authorize a special registration process for the prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine,” the senators wrote.