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COVID-19 Policy Playbook Recommends Removal of Telehealth Restrictions for OUD Treatment

Center for Connected Health Policy

May 2021

Legal recommendations for a safer more equitable future

Researchers from the Network for Public Health Law have published a COVID-19 Policy Playbook, that outlines legal recommendations for a safer more equitable future. Chapter 18 of the playbook features access issues to treat individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD). The chapter outlines several of the federal concessions made for telehealth during the PHE, including the ability to utilize non-public facing audio-visual communication technology regardless of their level of HIPAA compliance, and the ability to prescribe controlled substances, particularly buprenorphine via telemedicine. They also note that states have made similar flexibilities available at the state level in many cases. The chapter concludes with a list of recommendations, including the following:

*The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) should permit treatment to be initiated via telehealth
*Restrictions should be removed on who can receive treatment via telehealth.
*States should authorize provision of buprenorphine via telehealth where applicable.

COVID-19 Policy Playbook:

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