On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation to help address substance use disorder through telehealth. Led by Senators Thune (R-SD), Warner (D-VA), Cardin, (D-MD), Cornyn (R-TX), Whitehouse (D-RI), Grassley (R-IA), Schatz (D-HI), Wicker (R-MS), and Hyde-Smith (R-MS), the Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (eTREAT) Act (S. 2901) would expand the use of telehealth to treat substance use disorders by eliminating certain originating site restrictions found in Section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act. After the introduction of this bill, HIMSS joined a group of stakeholders in sending a letter to Senate Finance Chairman Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Wyden (D-IR) urging them to support the bill and include it in any work the Committee does to combat the opioid crisis.
Additionally, two other telehealth-focused bills were introduced along with the eTREAT Act. The Medicaid Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Treatment via Telehealth Act (S. 2904), led by Senator Carper (D-DE), directs the HHS Secretary and CMS to issue guidance to States regarding options for Medicaid reimbursement for SUD treatment through telehealth, including medication-assisted treatment and medication management. Lastly, the Telehealth for Children’s Access to Services and Treatment (TeleCAST) Act (S. 2910), led by Senator Roberts (R-KS), seeks to evaluate access to services and treatment for substance use disorders via telehealth and remote patient monitoring for pediatric populations under Medicaid. The bill directs CMS to issue a report on best practices and opportunities to reduce barriers to telehealth services to treat children, and requires the GAO to evaluate and recommend strategies to increase children’s access to services for SUD through telehealth.