Advocates for Opioid Addiction Treatment (AOAT) and American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD)—organizations supporting PNAP—released the following statement in response to proposed updates to federal regulations of opioid treatment released on December 12, 2022 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA):
“We applaud SAMHSA for understanding the critical role of opioid treatment programs (OTP) in treating opioid use disorder (OUD) and the urgent need to modernize our nation’s regulations to better expand access to evidence-based treatments for OUD without compromising patient and community safety. Together, our organizations represent more than 1,000 facilities providing evidence-based care to thousands of patients every day.
We strongly support policies in the proposed rule that promote the greater use of clinical judgement and patient-centric care, especially language promoting provider discretion to prescribe take-home doses of methadone to patients. Telehealth is a lifeline for working adults, the elderly and patients in rural communities, and we are encouraged by SAMSHA’s proposals to expand its use and make permanent some of the flexibilities enacted during the public health emergency. We are also pleased to see language removing the one-year requirement for opioid addiction before admission to an OTP—this barrier to lifesaving care needlessly prevents thousands of Americans every day from receiving the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) they need and deserve. These, and other proposed changes, will force us to modernize our approaches and spur us to remove barriers to care so more Americans with opioid use disorder can access life-saving medications.
Despite calls from some in Congress and addiction academics without clinical experience to simply deregulate methadone prescribing and dispensing as a solution to our nation’s opioid epidemic, we are deeply appreciative of SAMHSA’s understanding of the critical role of OTP multi-disciplinary teams and the psychosocial services they provide. This gold standard of care is supported by over 50 years of data and patient recovery success. SAMHSA has deftly threaded the needle of reforming outdated language and policies while preserving the therapeutic integrity of a system of care that has saved countless lives.
We applaud the agency’s commitment to proposing regulation changes that are evidence-based and supported by widely accepted clinical outcomes studies. We look forward to providing written comments to SAMHSA and working closely with the agency to ensure scientific evidence and clinical outcomes remain at the forefront of all policy proposals aimed at expanding access to lifesaving addiction care.”
Advocates for Opioid Addiction Treatment (AOAT) is a national coalition committed to providing the highest quality of care to our patients by protecting and expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for all Americans. AOAT members represent 550 OTP facilities and Office-Based Opioid Treatment (OBOT) practices serving over 150,000 patients daily across 43 states.
The American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence (AATOD) was founded in 1984 to enhance the quality of patient care in treatment programs by promoting the growth and development of comprehensive opioid treatment services throughout the United States. AATOD represents more than 1,100 Opioid Treatment Programs in the United States. AATOD has thirty state chapters and is also a founding partner in the development of the World Federation for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence, which represents another 600 treatment programs throughout Europe.