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HAP's Opioid LAN Conference Identifies Solutions to Fight Epidemic, Need for Regulatory Reform

June 24, 2021

The final day of HAP’s Opioid Learning Action Network (LAN) Capstone Conference focused on the regulatory barriers blocking access to opioid use disorder (OUD) treatment and how Pennsylvania providers are creating a new roadmap to coordinate patient care.

During the past two years, HAP’s Opioid LAN has brought together the health care community to address the opioid epidemic, focusing on evidence-based treatment models and efforts to reduce overdose deaths. The three-day conference included experts from across the nation dedicated to this important work.

The third day of the Capstone Conference highlighted ways to improve access to OUD treatment, with a particular emphasis on regulatory reform. Access to care is a clear challenge, as only 18 percent of Americans with OUD are receiving medication to treat their disease, said Elizabeth (Libby) Jones, officer of government relations for The Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Even before the pandemic, our treatment system was pushed past its capacity and was not meeting the needs of people suffering from OUD,” Jones said.

The conference’s final day focused on the following topics:

  • X-Waivers:  During 2017, about 20 million Americans lived in counties without a single physician waivered to prescribe buprenorphine. The X-Waiver requirement for physicians to prescribe OUD medications remains a clear barrier, separating addiction treatment from the rest of the health care system and creating racial and geographic health disparities. Momentum continues to build to update regulatory guidelines and to remove the X-Waiver altogether
  • Policy recommendations:  HAP’s Opioid LAN has identified several important policy initiatives, such as establishing quality metrics and performance-based payment models that incentivize high-quality clinical care. COVID-19 flexibilities—such as telephone-based assessments and expanded access to methadone take-home doses—have improved access to treatment and have the potential to help patients after the pandemic ends 
  • Future delivery models:  Hospitals, health systems, and other providers are building the essential connections to coordinate OUD care across their communities, aiming to create seamless transitions across a complex network of providers. New hub-and-spoke models strive to coordinate care, with primary care providers and specialists working in concert to direct patients to appropriate services

HAP’s Opioid LAN supports Pennsylvania’s hospitals to identify, create, and disseminate promising practices to address the opioid epidemic. The program is funded through Bloomberg Philanthropies and administered through Vital Strategies.

HAP is dedicated to continuing this important work to help address the opioid epidemic across the commonwealth. Additional information about HAP’s Opioid LAN is available online.

For more information or questions about HAP’s Opioid LAN, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Daneen Schroder, HAP’s vice president, business development and member services.