AMA lays out recommendations to improve opioid crisis

The American Medical Association is joining forces with healthcare groups to urge policymakers to make changes to remove barriers to opioid addiction treatment.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) in Chicago on Sept. 17, AMA President Patrice Harris, MD, MA, and David O. Barbe, MD, MHA, vice president of regional operations at Mercy Hospital Springfield and former AMA president, laid out several ways to improve access to addiction treatments. Already, more than two dozen states have introduced legislation on the opioid crisis that follow the AMA model.

“We are working to better integrate prescription drug monitoring programs into our practices, increasing patient access to life-saving naloxone, becoming trained to provide buprenorphine in-office for the treatment of opioid use disorder and advocating for evidence-based treatments in Congress and state legislatures across the nation,” said Harris. “We must continue to be strategic in our thinking and evidence-based in our approach.”

Here are some of their recommendations:

  • Remove prior authorization, step therapy and other administrative burdens that delay or deny care for medication-assisted treatment
  • Support assessment, referral and treatment for co-occurring mental disorders and enforce laws requiring insurance parity for treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders
  • Remove administration and other burdens for multidisciplinary care and rehabilitation
  • Support maternal and child health with better access to evidence-based treatment that is non-punitive
  • Support civil and criminal justice reforms to improve access to high quality, evidence-based care for opioid use disorder

“It is imperative that organizations and providers maintain high quality clinical documentation to guarantee the data on this topic is accurate to continue to properly guide research and education regarding opioid addiction,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, PhD, CAE. “Healthcare professionals must continue to work together to put an end to this public health emergency.”

The recommendations come at a time when pharmaceutical companies are taking a major hit for their role in the opioid abuse epidemic, which claimed 68,000 lives in 2018.