HITN's Opioid Safety Alliance Lauds Senate Passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act

Bill includes OSA-backed language on electronic prescribing, electronic prior authorizations, and access to telehealth services for treatment of substance use disorders

WASHINGTON, DC (September 17, 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 - commended today's Senate passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018

The bill, passed by a vote of 99 to 1 contains OSA-endorsed provisions to require the use of electronic prescribing for controlled substances within Medicare Part D (Section 2104), facilitate the use of electronic prior authorization within Medicare Part D (Section 2105), incentivize adoption of electronic health records among behavioral health providers (Section 2112), and expand access to telehealth services for substance use disorders (Section 2203). It is expected that lawmakers will now convene a conference committee to reconcile the legislation with the House-passed SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act.

Health IT Now Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White released the following statement: 
"The opioid crisis has touched every corner of American life. Its devastation knows no boundaries of age, location, political ideology, or socioeconomic status. With today's overwhelming passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act and the hope of a conference committee that can work expeditiously to put a bill on President Trump's desk, we can begin to change the devastating status quo," said HITN Opioid Safety Alliance Executive Director Joel White. "We are especially encouraged by the inclusion of commonsense Opioid Safety Alliance-endorsed language in this bill that will remove bureaucratic barriers to vital telehealth services for those suffering from addiction, modernize prescribing practices for controlled substances, and streamline prior authorization claims to improve efficiency while bolstering patient safety. These solutions can make a world of difference both in dollars saved and, more importantly, lives spared." 

White concluded, "With Congress expected to convene a conference committee to reconcile differences in the House and Senate-passed bills, OSA members will continue our advocacy work to ensure our solutions reach the finish line. Specifically, we urge lawmakers to include the House-passed OPPS Act (H.R. 6082) as part of any final conference agreement, thereby ensuring that addiction treatment records are no longer needlessly isolated from the rest of a patient's medical history - a practice that has hindered informed decisionmaking and threatened patient safety for too long. Additionally, OSA remains concerned about the lack of real-time, actionable data provided to clinicians by states' Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). With lawmakers poised to devote additional resources toward these programs, we should know if taxpayers are getting a return on their investment. We support the inclusion of language that would require an objective study and report on states’ use of PDMP technology."