Concern Over Future of Waivers for Treatment of Opioid Addiction During Pandemic

COVID-19 catalyzed a major shift to telehealth as a result of stay-at-home orders and efforts to prevent infection and disease spread. Regulatory agencies made changes that allowed for more telehealth-friendly clinical interventions which not only provided continued access to opioid addiction treatment for existing patient, but also facilitated engagement of new patients. The public health emergency has opened the door to a previously unavailable type of care for people with opioid addiction – an approach that has been championed by advocates and many health care professionals for years. The federal public health emergency declaration that gave rise to these changes is set to expire in late October. Barring an extension, the telehealth waivers could expire along with it. Now, virtual care companies, advocacy groups and even some lawmakers are using this moment to amplify the call to make these changes permanent.

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