HITN's Opioid Safety Alliance Hails Final Passage of Sweeping Opioid Bill with Tech-Enabled Solutions

OSA scores key wins for patients with language on electronic prescribing, electronic prior authorizations, incentivizing use of electronic health records, and expanding access to telehealth services for treatment of substance use disorders

WASHINGTON, DC (October 3, 2018): Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance - a working group of prescribers, health systems, technology companies, pharmacies and pharmacists, professional societies, and patients advocating for the use of technology to fight illegitimate opioid use - applauded today's final passage of the House and Senate's opioid legislation agreement, known as the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.  

The conference agreement, having already been overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives last week, now heads to President Trump's desk for this signature. The legislation highlights the strength of the Opioid Safety Alliance's advocacy work; carrying the promise of new, technology-enabled tools to rid the scourge of substance abuse that claims an estimated 175 American lives every day.

Health IT Now Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White released the following statement: 
"Today's final passage of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act marks a watershed moment in the fight to combat the devastating opioid crisis and spare more lives from the pain of substance abuse. Health IT Now's Opioid Safety Alliance fought hard for the inclusion of data-driven, 21st-century solutions to address this public health emergency - and won," said HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White. "We are grateful to lawmakers for including OSA-endorsed language in this bill to remove bureaucratic barriers to vital telehealth services for those suffering from addiction, modernize prescribing practices for controlled substances, incentivize the uptake of electronic health records, and streamline prior authorization claims to improve efficiency while enhancing patient safety. 

White concluded, "These solutions  - which would not have been realized without the tireless advocacy work of our members - can make a world of difference both in dollars saved and, more importantly, lives spared. We look forward to President Trump putting his signature on this legislation in short order and making the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act the law of the land." 

Formed in January of this year, HITN's Opioid Safety Alliance led a months-long advocacy campaign for Congressional passage of technology-enabled solutions to combat the opioid crisis. This included Congressional briefingsopinion piecesletters of supportconducting its own cost study,  and other measures. 

The Alliance's efforts led to the inclusion of provisions in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act such as:

  • Sections 2001 – Expanding the use of telehealth services for the treatment of opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders

  • Section  2003 – Electronic prescribing for controlled substances in Medicare Part D

  • Section 6001 – Testing of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology

  • Section 6062 – Electronic prior authorization for covered Medicare Part D drugs

Alliance members continue to champion additional measures, including legislation to reform the flawed 42 CFR Part 2 law, which isolates addiction treatment records from the rest of a patient's medical history, and passage of H.R. 6688, the Analyzing and Leveraging Existing Rx Transactions (ALERT) Act of 2018. The bipartisan bill would enact a Prescription Safety Alert System to complement the work of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) by delivering real-time, in-workflow clinical data at the point of dispensing using already existing transaction information - including capturing transactions that may occur across state lines and unsuccessful fill attempts.