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Congress Proposes Changes to Ryan Haight Act

Tuesday, March 13, 2018  
Posted by: AATA Staff
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Two draft discussion bills have been introduced in Congress that would amend the federal Ryan Haight Act for telemedicine. 

The Improving Access to Remote Behavioral Health Treatment Act would allow certain addiction treatment centers and community mental health centers to register as a clinic with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. This would allow telemedicine providers to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person examination.

A companion bill, the Special Registration for Telemedicine Clarification Act, would direct the Attorney General and the Health and Human Services Secretary to create interim final regulations within 30 days that would let healthcare practitioners apply for special registration around the use of telemedicine regarding the prescription of controlled substances without that in-person exam. 

The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, which took effect in April of 2009, prohibits the use of form-only online prescriptions of controlled substances without an in-person exam. It does allow for a special registration, but the DEA has not made it available. 

If these bills pass, the first bill would expand who would be eligible for the special registration to prescribe telemedicine without an in-person exam and include community mental health centers and addiction treatment centers. The second would actually put the special registration in effect. 

AATA will continue to monitor the progress of these bills and will update members on any important legislative updates. For more information on the current laws governing treatment programs and sober living facilities, please visit our Laws By State page.

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