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Telemedicine groups ask for clarity on remote prescribing


End of the public health emergency will end remote prescribing of controlled substances

The end of the Public Health Emergency May 11 means that some flexibilities for telehealth could end, including remote prescribing of controlled substances. Many prohibitions on telehealth were lifted during the PHE, but will possibly be reinstated when it officially ends. The American Telemedicine Association and its trade group, ATA Action, have asked for clarity on what will happen to remote prescribing.

“President Biden, leaders in the administration, and our bipartisan telehealth champions in Congress have taken a clear and consistent stance in support of telehealth throughout the public health emergency and we see no indication that their support will stop with the end of the PHE,” said Kyle Zebley, the ATA’s senior vice president, public policy, and executive director, ATA Action, in a statement. “However, the ATA and ATA Action implore our government leaders to provide a sense of certainty to a huge cohort of individuals requiring access to important medications for substance use disorders and other necessary drugs via telehealth after May 11. Unfortunately, flexibilities allowing for remote prescribing of controlled substances, as part of the Ryan Haight Act, currently expire with the PHE. Without a plan in place, these vulnerable populations will be left out in the cold, and we are quite sure this is not the intent of our government leaders.

The ATA has been requesting the Drug Enforcement Administration release its rules for special registration of telemedicine, which the ATA says is one path to continue providing care post-pandemic. However, the rules were required by statute in 2008 and reiterated in 2018, but they still have not been published.

“There is now an extreme sense of urgency with the public health emergency ending in only a few months,” added Zebley.

The ATA represents health care delivery systems, academic institutions, technology solution providers and payers, as well as partner organizations and alliances, working to advance industry adoption of telehealth, promote responsible policy, advocate for government and market normalization, and provide education and resources to help integrate virtual care into emerging value-based delivery models.

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