Wednesday, November 01, 2017

GAO tells HHS it should set clear measures for expanding medication-assisted addiction treatment

The Government Accountability Office released a study today recommending that the Department of Health and Human Services, as it works to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for addiction, should develop clear measures to gauge its performance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who requested the study, said it "will help to ensure that dollars are spent wisely to fight the crisis of opioid abuse taking lives in communities across the country. The announcement of GAO’s conclusions will help us as we continue to build a comprehensive approach to combating heroin and prescription drug abuse."

Medication-assisted treatment (MAT) is a combination of behavioral therapy combined with medication such as methadone and buprenorphine to manage addiction. The report found that HHS has implemented five key steps in expanding access to MAT for opioid users since 2015, but many who need MAT still don't have access to it, especially in rural areas. In addition to recommending that HHS create and implement performance measurements, the report recommends that the agency should establish timeframes for when it will evaluate efforts to expand MAT.

UPDATE, 2:35 p.m.: "President Trump's commission on the opioid crisis . . . called for a large expansion of medication-assisted treatment, which many experts have called the most effective approach and which Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb has endorsed,' The Washington Post reports.

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