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Congressional leadership urged to remove barriers to treat opioid use disorder

Photo Courtesy of TeleSouth Communications Inc.

Attorney General Jim Hood joined a bipartisan coalition of 39 attorneys general in a letter to Congressional leadership, asking for the removal of federal barriers that currently prevent health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. In 2018, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics confirmed 342 overdose deaths (more than 28 Mississippians dying per month,) and 61.4% of those were opioid-related.

The letter calls for three actions:

  • Replacing the out-of-date privacy rules contained in 42 CFR Part 2 with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability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);
  • Passing HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, which will eliminate burdens on buprenorphine prescribers imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Buprenorphine is one of three drugs used as part of Medication Assisted Treatment, one of the most effective treatments for opioid use disorder. Yet, the federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it; and
  • Fully repealing 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 who receive mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“The opioid epidemic has overwhelmed Mississippi, and we need to do everything in our power to address it,” General Hood said. “I hope Congress will pay attention to the three critical barriers in this letter. Removing them will allow us to effectively treat opioid use disorder as the chronic disease that it is.”

Mississippi joined lead states Oklahoma and North Carolina as well as Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakoda, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

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