NY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAMES: CONGRESS MUST ADDRESS OPIOID ADDICTION WITH NEW LEGISLATION

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[Congressional News]
NY Attorney General Letitia James: “Opioids are devastating communities across the country, and we have a duty to do all we can to protect Americans from this epidemic.”
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Attorney General Letitia James, along with a coalition of 38 states, yesterday sent a letter to Congress urging them to remove federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.

In a letter sent to Congressional leadership, the bipartisan coalition calls for the passage of legislation to: eliminate burdensome requirements that prohibit doctors from prescribing treatment for opioid abuse disorder, replace outdated medical privacy rules, and repeal a rule that prevents Medicaid from covering some forms of treatment.

“Opioids are devastating communities across the country, and we have a duty to do all we can to protect Americans from this epidemic,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “New York has filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against the makers and distributors of opioids, we’ve taken drug dealers off the streets, and now we are ensuring that impacted individuals can access the treatment they need. This crisis demands action from every angle and that is exactly what we are doing.”

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids, and according to the Centers for Disease Control, it is estimated that more than two million Americans struggle with opioid use disorder. In 2018, more than 47,500 Americans died from opioid-related overdoses.

In the letter, the coalition outlines three primary areas, which need to be addressed by Congress:

(1) Replace the cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA);

(2) Pass HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which would eliminate unnecessary burdens on buprenorphine prescribing imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and

(3) Fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

Attorney General James has led the fight against the opioid crisis. In March 2019, Attorney General James filed the nation’s most extensive lawsuit against the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. The New York Attorney General’s Office has also taken down countless drug trafficking networks and arrested hundreds of individuals who traffic opioids and related drug. The office has also arrested and convicted doctors and other medical professionals who have abused their roles and profited off of opioid addiction.

Joining New York Attorney General Letitia James in signing the letter are the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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