CHICAGO — The Medical Society of the District of Columbia (MSDC) and the American Medical Association (AMA) applauded the mayor’s office today for removing prior authorization for medications to treat opioid use disorder. The decision from the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) applies to patients receiving Medicaid and is effective immediately.

“This action will save lives,” said Patrice A. Harris, M.D., MA, president-elect of the American Medical Association and chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “We commend the leadership shown by Mayor Muriel Bowser, DHCF Director Wayne Turnage and Medicaid Director Melisa Byrd. Now it’s time for commercial health insurance companies to follow suit and remove prior authorization for medication assisted treatment [MAT].”

“Prior authorization for MAT can lead to delays and denials of care that have deadly consequences,” said Raymond Tu, MD, MS, MSDC president. “This will have a direct and immediate effect on improving patient care in the District.”

Added Director Byrd: “The evidence was clear to us that removing restrictions on access to MAT was essential to helping end the District’s opioid epidemic,” said Director Byrd. “This action supports the Live. Long. DC. opioid strategy to reduce regulatory barriers to treatment. We will work to implement this quickly with the District’s physicians and patient community to increase access to this life-saving medication.”

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About the American Medical Association

The American Medical Association is the physicians’ powerful ally in patient care. As the only medical association that convenes 190+ state and specialty medical societies and other critical stakeholders, the AMA represents physicians with a unified voice to all key players in health care.  The AMA leverages its strength by removing the obstacles that interfere with patient care, leading the charge to prevent chronic disease and confront public health crises and, driving the future of medicine to tackle the biggest challenges in health care.