Trump signs tech-boosting opioid legislation into law

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President Trump on Wednesday signed into law opioid legislation that expands use of telehealth and aims to improve prescription drug monitoring programs.

The Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act boosts several information technology-enabled tools to help combat the opioid epidemic, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention kills 130 Americans each day.

“This historic package makes meaningful reforms to keep illicit drugs out of our communities, better monitor prescribing, prevent addiction and help those suffering with a substance use disorder get the treatment and recovery support they need,” said James Carroll, deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a written statement. “It also reauthorizes ONDCP so that we can continue our mission and coordinate across the federal government.”

Also See: Opioid bill passed by House, Senate gets mixed reviews

Specifically, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act authorizes CDC grants for states to improve their prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs)—electronic databases meant to flag suspicious patient prescribing activitiesas well as collect public health information and to foster data sharing between states.

For its part, the American Medical Association’s Opioid Task Force has urged physicians to register and use state PDMPs to make more informed prescribing decisions.

Other IT-related provisions in the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act include:

  • Expanding the use of telehealth services for the treatment of opioid use disorder and other substance use disorders.
  • Electronic prescribing for controlled substances in Medicare Part D.
  • A study of incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption and use of certified electronic health record technology.
  • Electronic prior authorization for covered Medicare Part D drugs.

A provision that the AMA raised concerns about in the law creates a federal mandate for physicians to electronically prescribe controlled substances by January 2021 for Schedule II, III, IV and V controlled substances covered under a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plan. The group says it objects to mandates on physicians and duplicative requirements in state and federal programs.

However, the Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents America’s pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), voiced its support for the law requiring electronic prescribing for controlled substances in Medicare.

“We applaud the President for enacting this important legislation that will save lives and reduce fraud,” said JC Scott, the association’s president and CEO, in a written statement. “PBMs have led the effort in using e-prescribing and other cutting-edge technology to combat opioid abuse and improve patient safety.”

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