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Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment

Markey, Paul want to know if new rules are helping opioid treatment

Two senators are asking the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if new measures aimed at increasing access to opioid treatment are working.

Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Trump administration doubles down on climate skepticism | Suspended EPA health official hits back | Military bases could host coal, gas exports EPA chief calls racist Facebook post he liked ‘absolutely offensive’ Senate sends bill regulating airline seat sizes to Trump MORE (D-Mass.) and Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulSaudi mystery drives wedge between Trump, GOP Noisy democracy, or rude people behaving like children? Lawmakers, Wall Street shrug off Trump's escalating Fed attacks MORE (R-Ky.) worked to pass a provision allowing trained nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe buprenorphine, a type of medication-assisted treatment for an opioid addiction.

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In addition, the Obama administration in 2016 finalized a rule that eased the limit on how many patients physicians can prescribe with buprenorphine to 275. The number had previously been capped at 100.

Paul and Markey sent a letter Wednesday to Elinore McCance-Katz, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use, asking how all of these changes have impacted access to treatment.

“Together these changes aimed to expand the availability of this important tool and put it in the hands of qualified medical professionals to help increase points of entry for treatment, reduce waitlists and offer hope to patients suffering from opioid use disorders,” the two wrote.

Among the details the senators have requested are information on how many physicians intend to increase their patient cap to 275; how many nurse practitioners and physician assistants are now authorized to prescribe buprenorphine; and any efforts the agency has made to publicize the changes.