CMS Rules Include Provisions for Telehealth SUD Treatment, Methadone Payment Exceptions

On November 2nd, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published their final rule, Calendar Year (CY) 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) Final Rule, which includes updated policy changes aimed at improving access to high-quality health care through telehealth and telecommunications technologies. As part of the final rule, CMS finalized a change related to Opioid Treatment Program (OTP) payments that would allow OTPs to continue to provide substance use disorder treatment services via telephone calls after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. In statement about the final rule, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said, “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the gaps in our current health care system and the need for new solutions to bring treatments to patients, wherever they are. This is especially true for people who need behavioral health services, and the improvements we are enacting will give people greater access to telehealth and other care delivery options.” The final rule affects Medicare payments under the PFS that occur on or after January 1, 2022.

CMS has also issued an interim final rule to maintain the CY 2021 payment rate for methadone to treat opioid use disorders into CY 2022. The interim rule would eliminate the annual process to review methadone coverage treatment for CY 2022 to avoid implementing a possible decrease in the payment amounts for methadone for Medicare beneficiaries. In a statement, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said, “It would not be appropriate to implement a decrease to the payment rate when substance use and overdoses have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” The interim final rule is effective as of January 1, 2022 and HHS will accept comments until January 3, 2022 here.

Articles & Resources

CMS – Calendar Year (CY) 2022 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule

CMS – CMS Physician Payment Rule Promotes Greater Access to Telehealth Services, Diabetes Prevention Programs

Bloomberg Government – Biden’s HHS Locks in Methadone Pay Rate, Citing Covid Impact

Drug Takeback Day Nets Nearly 750K Pounds of Unused, Unwanted Drugs

On October 23rd, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) held their National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, an annual event that provides the public with a safe and convenient way to dispose of prescription drugs and education opportunities about medication misuse. During this year’s event, the DEA and their network of over 4,200 state and local law enforcement partners hosted over 5,000 collection sites and collected nearly 745,000 pounds of prescription medications. In a press release, DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said, “On DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, communities across America came together to rid medicine cabinets of unneeded medications, helping to prevent prescription drug misuse. Take Back Day is a critical effort to curb the historic surge in U.S. overdoses. We know prevention starts at home. The simple step of clearing out medications that are no longer needed makes our homes safer, prevents prescription drug misuse, and, ultimately, can help save lives.”

Articles & Resources

DEA – DEA’s National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Brings in nearly 745,000 Pounds of Unneeded Medications

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

AAMC – To end the drug crisis, bring addiction out of the shadows

AMA – 2021 Overdose Epidemic Report

American Pharmacists Association – International operation leads to 150 arrests in internet opioid trafficking bust

Annals of Internal Medicine – A Primary Care–Based Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Intervention for Long-Term Opioid Users With Chronic Pain

Congressman Chris Pappas – NH Delegation Announces $1.4M to Support Drug Enforcement Efforts

Congressman Donald Norcross – Rep. Norcross Announces $625,000 Grant for Youth Mentorship Program

Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster – Energy and Commerce Committee Advances Kuster-Backed Legislation To Bolster Mental Health Workforce Training

Forbes – Could Big Data Beat Our Opioid Crisis?

ICE – ICE HSI supports extensive international operation targeting Darknet opioid traffickers

NPR – San Francisco’s new rapid response teams race to save lives as ODs dramatically rise

STAT – In a first, a California judge rules drug makers are not liable for the opioid crisis

STAT – The Purdue bankruptcy plan was approved to distribute billions. Where is the money?

The Herald Sun – Naloxone shortage could lead to thousands of overdose deaths in NC, experts warn

U.S. Attorney’s Office Western District of Pennsylvania – Former Pain Management Doctor Sentenced for Illegally Dispensing Opioids, Health Care Fraud

U.S. Department of Labor – Us Department of Labor Awards $1.3m in Funding to Continue Employment, Training Services to Combat Rhode Island’s Opioid Crisis

This Week’s Calendar

In the week ahead, there are no relevant events or hearings noticed at this time. In the event that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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