COVID-19 PHE Audiovisual Telemedicine Flexibility

November 25, 2022

As a condition of the initial federal COVID-19 PHE, the DEA permitted audiovisual telemedicine services for initiating all schedule II-V controlled substance medications, including buprenorphine, without providers having to first conduct an in-person evaluation.

On March 31, 2020, the DEA further released guidance declaring that prescribers have the flexibility to prescribe buprenorphine via telephone, without the need for in-person or virtual video evaluation.

To date, this flexibility remains in effect, as the COVID-19 PHE continues. However, without permanent policy changes, this flexibility will cease simultaneously with the federal PHE expiration – potentially ceasing care for an estimated 2.5 million Americans who receive buprenorphine treatment for opioid use disorder via telemedicine.  Recently, the NYS Council drafted and submitted comments to CMS regarding the flexibilities that are the subject of this letter.  We made a strong statement regarding the need for these flexibilities to be extended to all schedule II medications including methadone.  

Earlier this week, 45 state attorneys general – including Kentucky’s AG, Daniel Cameron, signed a declaration requesting that the DEA and SAMHSA make permanent the agency policies that facilitate telehealth.
View the full letter from the NAAG  —>