The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it is eliminating the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) waiver requirement for some physicians. HHS will publish Practice Guidelines for the Administration of Buprenorphine for Treating Opioid Use Disorder, to expand access to MAT by exempting physicians from certain certification requirements needed to prescribe buprenorphine for opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment.
- The exemption only applies to physicians who may only treat patients who are located in the states in which they are authorized to practice medicine.
- Physicians utilizing this exemption will be limited to treating no more than 30 patients with buprenorphine for opioid use disorder at any one time (note: the 30-patient cap does not apply to hospital-based physicians, such as Emergency Department physicians).
- The exemption applies only to the prescription of drugs or formulations covered under the X-waiver of the CSA, such as buprenorphine, and does not apply to the prescription, dispensation, or use of methadone for the treatment of OUD.
- Physicians utilizing this exemption shall place an “X” on the prescription and clearly identify that the prescription is being written for opioid use disorders (along with the separate maintaining of charts for patients being treated for OUD).
- An interagency working group will be established to monitor the implementation and results of these practice guidelines, as well as the impact on diversion.