GOP lawmaker touts move to lift limits on telehealth for opioid treatment

Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Ga.) on Thursday touted legislation to use telehealth to prescribe drugs to treat opioid addiction, a move he said would make it easier to fight the epidemic.

“This will give the opportunity for physicians, through telemedicine, to actually prescribe controlled substances such as what we use in medication assisted treatment,” Carter said at an event on telehealth hosted by The Hill and sponsored by the Health Care Alliance for Patient Safety.

{mosads}Carter’s legislation, cosponsored by Democratic Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.) would lift limits on prescribing drugs that treat opioid addiction without first having an in-person doctor’s visit. Instead, telehealth could be used to prescribe the medication from afar.

The legislation, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, is included in an opioid package that Congress is expected to pass this week.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a doctor, said that telehealth can be useful in other circumstances as well, even if a patient is older and not as technologically savvy, if the doctor establishes a good relationship.  

“It isn’t age, it’s the nature of the patient-provider relationship that enables,” Cassidy said.

“The provider can bring a great deal of comfort to that relationship,” he added.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) said an extra step needed is to expand broadband access so that people have strong internet access to enable telehealth. Broadband can be used for rural areas to have the “health care they need and deserve but for economic development also,” Matsui said.   

Tags Bill Cassidy Buddy Carter Cheri Bustos Doris Matsui

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