Oklahoma attorney general asking Congress for help against opioid epidemic

OKLAHOMA CITY – State officials are asking Congress for their help with the opioid epidemic.

Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter sent a letter to Congressional leaders, asking for them to remove the federal barriers that are currently preventing health care providers from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.

Opioid use disorder is the physical and psychological reliance on opioids. Symptoms of opioid addiction include uncontrollable cravings for the drugs and inability to control opioid use despite negative impacts.

“States are on the front lines and are combining all of the resources at our disposal to stop the current crisis,” Attorney General Hunter said. “Although we have been successful in many ways, there is more that can be done by the federal government. By eliminating the barriers outlined in our letter, Congress can take meaningful, productive steps that will benefit those currently struggling with addiction before it’s too late. I appreciate my attorneys general colleagues, including North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, who acknowledge that addiction is a brain disease, not a moral failing, and the more help we can provide for those struggling the better.”

The letter focuses on replacing out-of-date privacy rules, along with passing the Mainstream Addiction Treatment Act. The act would eliminate unnecessary burdens on prescribing buprenorphine imposed by the Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000. Officials say outdated and unnecessary federal requirements are discouraging doctors from prescribing this life-saving drug to patients who need it.

Also, congressional leaders are encouraged to fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion, which prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility.

Oklahoma and North Carolina is joined on the letter by attorneys general from Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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