The Bulletin Board
Lawmakers say yes to prescribing opioids by telemedicine
Under the bill, licensed physicians, physician assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners could continue prescribing federally controlled drugs via phone or video as long as the person is a patient. (Getty Images)
The pandemic inflicted uncountable health challenges on the state, but it also exposed opportunities to improve health care. Among those was an emergency order that allowed providers to prescribe opioids and other medication via telemedicine, something that had been prohibited.
That telemedicine option will end in May with the termination of the federal emergency order unless lawmakers agree to continue it. They appear on track to do so. Thursday the House passed House Bill 500 in a voice vote, a process often used for bills with broad bipartisan support. It still needs to pass the Senate.
Under the bill, licensed physicians, physician assistants, and advanced registered nurse practitioners could continue prescribing federally controlled drugs via phone or video as long as the person is a patient. The bill would also require patients have in-person exams with licensed providers at least once a year.
The bill covers federally controlled drugs that fall into three categories, schedule two through four. Those include opium, codeine, oxycodone, and other drugs used to treat substance misuse and mental health conditions.
The bill went to the full House with unanimous support from the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. In its report to the House, the committee said the bill would provide “significant benefits” to a wide range of patients, including those in palliative care, adolescents with ADHD, and patients recovering from surgery.
All seven people who weighed in through the committee’s online portal supported it.
“As a person who has benefited from telehealth services, especially when I had Covid-19 and could not obtain medicine any other way, I support this delivery system as specified in the bill,” wrote Martha Rich of Enfield. “I believe this legislation would expand care for those who need it, and is structured in a way to prevent abuse or error.”
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