Data shows telehealth reduced overdoses, White House calls for more funding to fight opioids

Congress Synthetic Opioids
Posted at 1:38 PM, Aug 31, 2022

New data compiled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services found that telehealth helped reduced opioid overdoses. The data released on Wednesday suggested that telehealth made it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to access care for opioid use disorder.

At the onset of the pandemic, the Trump administration expanded telehealth programs for Medicare beneficiaries. The expansion allowed Medicare to pay for beneficiaries’ telehealth visits.

The action, federal officials said, improved retention in care and reduced odds of medically treated overdose.

As part of its plan to fight overdoses, the Biden Administration released a funding proposal to combat addictions. The plan calls for $42.5 billion in funding in 2023 for National Drug Control Program agencies, a $3.2 billion increase from 2022.

The Biden administration is proposing an increase in Medicare payment rates to opioid treatment programs to better reflect costs of counseling services. The White House also wants Medicare to pay for buprenorphine initiation through telehealth.

Despite telehealth possibly improving outcomes, opioid deaths have been trending much high in recent years. In 2020, overdose deaths topped 100,000 in the U.S. for the first time. It was a 31% increase from 2019.