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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 McCaskillMcCaskill welcomes ninth grandson in a row Dem group launches M ad buy to boost vulnerable senators Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE (D-Mo.) and Alaska’s two Republican senators — Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe siren of Baton Rouge Interior plan to use drilling funds for new projects met with skepticism The 14 GOP senators who voted against Trump’s immigration framework MORE and Dan SullivanDaniel Scott SullivanFeehery: Infrastructure reform requires creativity Overnight Energy: Interior speeds up process to drill on federal land | Zinke promises restructuring plan won't cut jobs | Trump 'really didn't care' about ANWR at first Ohio lawmakers urge Trump to change Denali's name back to Mt. McKinley 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 TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out 'subversion' at VA 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.