Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Feds Raise Cap on Buprenorphine Patient Loads

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Feds Raise Cap on Buprenorphine Patient Loads

Article excerpt

QUALIFIED PHYSICIANS SOON will be al lowed to provide medication-assisted treatment with buprenorphine to nearly triple the number of patients under a new rule by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The rule, announced by the Health & Human Services department on July 6, allows qualified practitioners to prescribe buprenorphine to up to 275 patients, up from the previous limit of 100. Raising the cap will mean treatment of 10,00070,000 more patients within the first year, according to HHS. The rule took effect Aug. 5.

The policy shift allowing qualified practitioners to prescribe to more patients "is likely to have a significant impact in rural areas which are currently served by smaller numbers of practitioners with waivers," the HHS rule said.

Also, HHS plans to eliminate pain management questions from the payment scoring calculation of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey.

The removal aims to relieve pressure on clinicians to overprescribe opioids since scores on the HCAHPS survey are tied to Medicare payments to hospitals. Hospitals would continue to use the questions to survey patients about their inpatient pain management experience, but the questions would not affect the level of payment that hospitals receive, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said during a press conference. The changes are part of numerous steps announced by HHS to build on the agency's Opioid Initiative.

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"Together, these announcements will help us take additional steps forward," Ms. …

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