On Wednesday, October 3, the Senate passed comprehensive legislation, approved by the House last month, to combat the opioid crisis paving the way for the bipartisan, bicameral bill to be signed into law. Included in HR 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act are three key provisions formally endorsed by HIMSS. These provisions will advance electronic prescribing of controlled substances and electronic prior authorization under Medicare part D and add additional flexibility for the HHS Secretary to waive restrictions on the use of telehealth to treat substance use disorders. HIMSS worked closely with the original bill sponsors and partner organizations in the healthcare and health IT communities to ensure inclusion of these critical policies in the final negotiated package.
In addition, the legislation creates a pilot program through CMMI to incentivize EHR adoption for behavioral health providers and strengthens prescription drug monitoring programs. It also builds on the success of the ECHO Act, legislation endorsed by HIMSS and signed into law in the last Congress, to establish comprehensive opioid centers that utilize technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models.