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Warner & Kaine Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Expand Access to Telehealth Treatment for Substance Use Disorder

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine joined Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in introducing the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act, legislation that would increase access to telehealth services for individuals with substance use disorder (SUD). During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) temporarily removed an in-person exam requirement for providers to prescribe SUD treatments. This change expanded access to care and reduced the risk of overdose, but it is set to expire at the end of next year. The TREATS Act would make this flexibility permanent.

“Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic we learned valuable lessons in how to adapt our health care system in order to better care for patients, including the successful treatment of patients with opioid addiction using telehealth services,” said Warner.  “The TREATS Act would make permanent commonsense, safe telehealth practices that will expand care options for those battling with substance use disorder.”

“Telehealth has helped many Virginians get the health care they need, including access to treatments for substance use disorder,” said Kaine. “By permanently allowing doctors to prescribe life-saving treatments via telehealth, the TREATS Act would better support individuals in recovery and help reduce the risk of overdoses.”

In 2021, 2,622 Virginians died from overdose, averaging seven Virginians per day. Despite strong evidence that medication is the most effective treatment for SUD, only one in five Americans with SUD receive medication treatment that would help them quit and stay in recovery. The TREATS Act would make life-saving medication like buprenorphine more accessible and save lives.

Joining the senators in cosponsoring this legislation are Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and Cory Booker (D-NJ). U.S. Representatives David Trone (D-MD-6), Jay Obernolte (R-CA-23), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1) led the introduction of the legislation in the House. 

Full text of the bill is available here.