HHS Releases Details on New Medication Assisted Treatment Prescribers
The Department for Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that starting in February 2017 nurse practitioners and physician assistants will be able to prescribe buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction. This policy change, authorized by the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), will create greater access to medication-assisted treatment by increasing the number of available prescribers across the country.
According to the announcement, nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) will be required to participate in 24 of training before they can prescribe opioid use disorder treatment. Once training requirements are met, nurse practitioners and physician assistants can apply for a waiver to treat up to 30 patients. NPs and PAs who complete the required training and seek to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 30 patients will be able to apply to do so beginning in early 2017.
HHS also announced its intent to initiate rulemaking to allow NPs and PAs who have prescribed at the 30 patient limit for one year, to apply for a waiver to prescribe buprenorphine for up to 100 patients.
SAMHSA is working quickly with training providers to help them adapt curricula and obtain continuing education credits for this important training. Though details on the full 24-hour training are not yet available, SAMHSA has confirmed that the existing 8-hour buprenorphine training course for physicians will serve as the foundation for the NP/PA training. As additional details become available, they will be posted on the SAMHSA website at http://www.samhsa.gov/medication-assisted-treatment.