On Jan. 23, the DEA announced a change in regulation designed to increase access to Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction in rural areas. Under the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), prescribing authority for long-term use of buprenorphine was expanded in 2016 to include qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants.
In the same year, CARA also gave authority to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to increase the maximum number of patients that a qualified practitioner may treat from 100 to 275. This action by the DEA incorporates those changes into its regulations for the Controlled Substances Act and is intended to increase access to treatment in rural areas.
Research has shown that more than half of rural counties had no DEA waivered physicians in 2016. Rural physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can get no-cost MAT waiver training online from the Providers’ Clinical Support System at https://pcssmat.org/.