ATA Calls for Stakeholder Letter on Telemedicine Controlled Substances and Ryan Haight Act

01 November 2022 Health Care Law Today Blog
Author(s): Nathaniel M. Lacktman

A coalition of health care associations has issued a call for stakeholders to sign onto a letter urging the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to take immediate action allowing telemedicine prescribing of controlled substances after the Public Health Emergency (PHE) waivers expire. The initiative is co-led by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), ATA Action, the American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the American Psychiatric Association. Such action is necessary, the group contends, to ensure patients can confidently continue receiving necessary treatment where and when they need it, while simultaneously creating a bridge to avoid the Telehealth Gap. The stakeholder letter is available here.

Before the PHE occurred, the President signed a law instructing the DEA to issue regulations for a Special Telemedicine Registration under the Ryan Haight Act. The regulations would offer an exception to the Ryan Haight Act’s in-person exam requirement, allowing clinicians who received the special registration to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without conducting an initial in-person exam. The law mandated DEA to promulgate the regulations before a deadline of October 25, 2019. Regrettably, that date came and went. More than three years after the deadline imposed by federal law, DEA has not published the regulation.

A few months after that deadline, the COVID-19 pandemic arose and, along with it, the official declaration of a PHE and associated rule waivers. During the PHE, the DEA acted swiftly to waive the Ryan Haight Act’s in-person exam requirement for the prescription of controlled substances, thereby ensuring millions of both established and new patients were able to receive medically necessary prescriptions via telemedicine. But once the PHE waivers expire, the in-person requirement is set to revert into place, without any special registration rule or other process established to ensure continuity of care. With access to care already limited, and nationwide drug shortages making certain medications scarce, many patients may be left with nowhere to turn and could end up with delayed care, no care, or even worse negative outcomes.

Make Your Voice Heard

Organizations interested in signing on and joining the letter can fill out this form by Wednesday, November 9, 2022.

Want to Learn More?

For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, virtual care, remote patient monitoring, digital health, and other health innovations, including the team, publications, and representative experience, visit Foley’s Telemedicine & Digital Health Industry Team.

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