The Opioid Response Package: Where do we go now?

On October 24th President Trump signed into law the Opioid Response package, referred to as the Support for Patients and Communities Act. Among many other elements, the legislation has provisions that require electronic prescribing for opioid prescriptions in Medicare. Additionally, the package requires improvements to state prescription drug monitoring programs, the enhancement of telehealth options, and the installation of changes to Medicare and Medicaid programs. Improving access to care and funding new payment models specific to substance use disorder are the two main goals of the new package. Practice Fusion has worked to provide you with an overview and summary of a few of the key elements of the bill which you will find below.

  1. E-prescribing Required for Opioids in Medicare

    This piece of the legislation is known as the “Every Prescription Conveyed Securely (EPCS) Act.” Schedule II-V Controlled Substances covered under a Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug Plan, are required to be transmitted in accordance with an electronic prescription drug program by January 1, 2021. This piece of legislation requires the DEA to update its regulations pertaining to how prescribers authenticate prescriptions using biometrics. EPCS will be required to be used by all providers on January 1, 2021. The use of e-prescribing is intended to help reduce prescription drug errors and to allow prescribers to track a patient’s use of prescription drugs and controlled substances. Doctors will have greater insight into their patient’s health history, and a better understanding of their behavior revolving around their health.

  2. Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs

    Several provisions are aimed at improving federal support for states and localities to improve their PDMPs and to encourage data sharing between states. The legislation appropriates $496 million per year starting in 2019 and ending in 2023 to help states improve their PDMPs. Grants can be made for the express purpose of “enhancing interoperability between the program (PDMP) and any health information technology (including CEHRT), including by integrating program data.” This will require the CDC and other HHS departments to improve the efficiency and use of PDMPs by addressing intrastate interoperability and integration of PDMPs with EHRs and other health IT vendors. There is also a focus on collecting and analyzing public health data and implementing other evidence-based prevention strategies.

  3. Testing Meaningful Use Incentive Payments for Behavioral Health Providers for adoption

    The package authorizes a demonstration project from The CMMI to test Meaningful Use incentive payments for behavioral health providers for adoption of CEHRT. More funding will be made available for behavioral health providers, making the transition to electronic health records easier. With more providers utilizing Health IT, there should be a greater capturing of data and an enhanced capability to monitor the progress of patients, void of the documentation errors associated with paper records.

  4. Telehealth Services for Substance Use Disorders

    This provision eliminates existing limitations related to statutory originating site requirements for telehealth services for Medicare for the treatment of substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, beginning July 1, 2019. It will allow payment for those services furnished via telehealth at originating sites, including a beneficiary’s home, regardless of geographic location. Access to service and help will become more seamless, as individuals will not be required to travel unnecessary distances to receive the medical treatments they require.

  5. Jessie’s Law

    This law requires Health and Human Services to develop best practices for prominently displaying or alerting substance use disorder treatment information in electronic health records, when requested by the patient. This will be key in the prevention of duplicate prescriptions and identifying at risk patients for substance use disorders.

As a whole, the Opioid Response package enables the healthcare community to take positive, proactive steps in the right direction towards ending the opioid epidemic. Continued efforts at integrating health IT into the everyday interactions of the medical community will prove vital and necessary. Practice Fusion will continue to monitor the legislative actions that will take place as a result of this package, and will deliver to you key analysis and pertinent information. At Practice Fusion, your practice is our priority, and we are committed to providing you with the tools you need to achieve success.