Leading state and national physician groups applauded a Kentucky House committee for advancing a bill today to make it easier for people with an addiction to opioids to receive treatment.

The Kentucky Medical Association (KMA), Kentucky Society of Addiction Medicine (KYSAM), American Medical Association (AMA) and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) urged swift passage of the bill by the full House following passage by the Health and Family Services Committee. State Rep. Kim Moser sponsored the bill (HB 121).  

The bill would prohibit insurers in Kentucky from requiring prior authorization for prescription drugs used to treat opioid use disorder. Prior authorization requirements often delay access to medication assisted treatment (MAT), the evidence-based treatment used to treat opioid use disorder.

“When a patient seeking care for an opioid use disorder is forced to delay or interrupt ongoing treatment due to prior authorization, there is often a negative impact on their care and health,” said KMA President Bruce A. Scott, MD. “As we continue to urge more physicians to become trained and certified to provide medication-assisted treatment, we simultaneously urge all payers and policymakers to work with us to remove all barriers to care for patients with an opioid use disorder. We’re proud to have worked with Rep. Moser on this bill and will continue advocating for increased access to treatment for all in Kentucky who need it.”

Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force, added: “Rep. Moser’s bill is a crucial step forward for Kentucky. Too many people are dying. We can no longer keep in place unnecessary barriers to treatment such as prior authorization. Kentucky lawmakers – and the governor – now have a chance to lead in the fight against this terrible epidemic and be a model for other states to follow. I strongly urge state legislators to pass HB 121.”

Kentucky has been hard hit by the epidemic:

  • According to the most recent data (2017), Kentucky had the eighth-highest opioid overdose death rate in in the country, at 27.9 per 100,000 people.
  • This is an 18 percent increase from the previous year’s data.
  • In Kentucky, 89 percent of patients in need of addiction treatment services do not receive it.

Physicians in other states that took action on prior authorization weigh in:

The Kentucky bill mirrors legislation passed in Maryland in 2017 that broadens access to MAT.

“Removing prior authorization for medication assisted treatment for opioid use disorder has unquestionably saved lives and restored hope to many of my patients in Maryland,” said Yngvild Olsen, MD, MPH, DFASAM, and ASAM secretary. “Instead of spending senseless hours each week filling out forms or waiting on the phone to speak with a health insurance company administrator, I can treat more patients and have a greater impact on ending our state’s opioid epidemic.”

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