Thune introduces “tele-health” legislation to tackle substance abuse

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Sen. John Thune (R-SD) introduced the Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (e-TREAT) Act on Tuesday. Thune, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has bipartisan support for the legislation that would increase access to substance use disorder (SUD) treatments through telehealth technology under Medicare.

In addition to the e-TREAT legislation, four additional directives to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services were announced, including:

  • Issue guidance for Medicaid reimbursement for SUD treatment though telehealth, including medication-assisted treatment, counseling and medication management.
  • Report on SUD services available for youth and strategies to increase access to treatment through telehealth.
  • Issue guidance for non-opioid treatment pain treatment options.
  • Include a review of opioid prescriptions as part of the Welcome to Medicare exam and annual wellness visits for seniors.

The proposal is likely to be considered as a part of the broader opioid package the Senate will consider later this summer.