National and state physicians are congratulating the Iowa Legislature and Gov. Reynolds for their roles in passing a law that will result in more state residents receiving treatment for opioid use disorder.
The new law will remove common barriers that keep patients from accessing the gold standard for treating opioid use disorder. That treatment, known as medication assisted treatment (MAT), relies on medication prescribed by a physician. Yet, patients have difficulty securing this treatment partly because insurance providers set up obstacles, such as requiring physicians to get approval before providing treatment. This is known as prior authorization.
Gov. Reynolds signed the bill, which removes prior authorization under Medicaid fee-for-service and managed care administration for at least one form of MAT: methadone, buprenorphine, naloxone, buprenorphine-naloxone combination products and naltrexone.
“Medication assisted treatment saves lives, and, by removing the barriers and delays that prevent and slow access to care for patients in need, is a critical step in the fight against the opioid epidemic,” said AMA President-elect Patrice A. Harris, M.D., who chairs the AMA Opioid Task Force. “We strongly commend Gov. Reynolds and the Iowa Legislature for their leadership and dedication to confront this challenge. This legislation will increase access to care and save lives; states that have yet to take this step should follow Iowa’s lead.”
“The Iowa Medical Society (IMS) worked hard to get this bill enacted because medical evidence clearly demonstrates how MAT improves recovery, reduces health care costs and most important—saves lives,” said IMS President Marygrace Elson, M.D. “No patient should have to face a delay or denial of evidence-based care for opioid use disorder—this bill helps remove those barriers to our most vulnerable patients.”
Iowa joins a growing number of states this year that have increased access to MAT. Other states include Arkansas, Colorado, New York, Virginia as well as the District of Columbia. Bills are pending in other states, including Louisiana and Vermont.
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