FORHP’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program figures prominently among ongoing federal grant programs that are part of the strategy that is now entering its third year. The effort involves every one of the 12 operating divisions of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and, in 2023 alone, featured groundbreaking changes to policy that include:
- Eliminated the Drug Enforcement Agency waiver for prescribing medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) and made temporary rules for prescribing via telemedicine permanent; (See more details about SAMHSA policy changes for MOUD in the next item.)
- Increased Medicare payment rates for opioid treatment programs (OTPs), including services provided by mobile units;
- Expanded the clinical workforce that may bill Medicare by including marriage and family therapists, licensed professional counselors, and others to provide behavioral health services;
- Established Medicare payment for Intensive Outpatient Program services, which can be furnished in hospital outpatient departments, Community Mental Health Centers, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Clinics, and OTPs.
The latest initiative in the overdose prevention strategy was announced earlier this week. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration will invest more than $20 million to advance health information technology in behavioral health care and practice settings.