CHICAGO (WSIL) -- Attorney General Kwame Raoul today joined a coalition of 35 attorneys general in urging Senate and House of Representatives leadership to remove federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.
“The opioid epidemic is not an isolated problem; it has destroyed lives and families throughout Illinois,” Raoul said. “Removing barriers to treatment is one meaningful step that will ease the burden of people currently struggling with addiction. I am committed to providing help to those who are suffering and to protecting the people of Illinois from the devastating effects that opioid addiction has on public health, social services and criminal justice systems. I urge members of Congress to take the steps outlined in this letter, and live up to that same commitment.”
In the letter, Raoul and the coalition asked members of Congress to take three steps to help remedy the opioid crisis by removing barriers to treatment, including:
• Replacing cumbersome, out-of-date, privacy rules with the effective and more familiar privacy rules contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
• Passing HR 2482, the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, to eliminate burdens on prescribing buprenorphine – one of three drugs used as part of medication-assisted treatment, the most effective treatment for opioid use disorder. Outdated and unnecessary federal requirements imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it.
• Fully repealing the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion. The IMD exclusion prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for the cost of treatment for adults between the ages of 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds and where more than half of the patients are receiving such treatment.
The letter is part of Attorney General Raoul’s ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic and hold accountable companies whose deceptive practices have increased opioid prescriptions at the expense of public health. In April, Raoul’s office filed a lawsuit against opioid manufacturer Purdue Pharma for carrying out an aggressive and misleading marketing campaign to increase prescriptions of opioid painkillers as communities throughout Illinois and across the country faced an opioid addiction epidemic. Raoul’s lawsuit seeks to require Purdue to give up revenues made as a result of its conduct and to pay to help remediate the harm caused by the epidemic.
Raoul urges anyone who believes they or a loved one may be addicted to opioids to seek help by calling the Illinois Helpline for Opioids and Other Substances at 833-2FINDHELP, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Joining Raoul in the letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.