Covid-19: Certain Telemedicine Flexibilities Extended via Temporary Rule

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) issued a temporary rule to extend certain flexibilities given during the public health emergency (PHE). This rule is effective from May 11, 2023 to November 11, 2023 with an additional 12 month extension if certain requirements are met as described below.

Background: To avoid lapses in care during the Covid-19 PHE, the DEA granted exceptions to standing regulations. These exceptions allowed providers to prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine without an in-person evaluation, and the exception was set to expire with the PHE.

Earlier this year on March 1, 2023, the DEA and HHS proposed two rules for telemedicine prescribing of controlled medications without an in-person evaluation. The proposed rules received a record of 38,369 public comments and are currently under review for potential revisions. The agencies are working towards a final and permanent set of regulations that will permit telemedicine under certain circumstances consistent with public health, safety, and effective diversion controls.

What’s Changed? The DEA and SAMHSA issued a temporary rule on May 9, 2023 that will ensure providers can continue to prescribe controlled substances without an in-person evaluation until November 11, 2023. Additionally, the new temporary rule allows for the following:

  • The complete telemedicine flexibilities for the prescription of controlled medications that were enacted during the COVID-19 PHE will remain in effect until November 11, 2023.
  • Further, if a patient and a practitioner established a telemedicine relationship, meaning the provider has prescribed controlled medications to the patient, prior to 11/11/2023, then the same telemedicine flexibilities regarding the prescription of controlled medications will be allowed until November 11, 2024.

Summary: The temporary rule will prevent lapses in care while the DEA and HHS work to review the proposed rules that are targeting a permanent set of regulations with regards to prescribing controlled medications without an in-person evaluation.

While every effort has been taken in compiling this information to ensure that its contents are totally accurate, neither the publisher nor the author can accept liability for any inaccuracies or changed circumstances of any information herein or for the consequences of any reliance placed upon it. This publication is distributed on the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional advice or services. Readers should always seek professional advice before entering into any commitments.

About Michelle Cammayo, Compliance National Practice Leader, Employee Benefits

Michelle Cammayo has close to 20 years of Employee Benefits experience specializing in all lines of health and welfare benefits. Today, Michelle works closely with clients and partners to provide guidance in areas of the law including ERISA, HIPAA, COBRA, FMLA and PPACA. She is also the IMA National Practice Leader for Compliance and endeavors to ensure IMA helps its clients manage and eliminate risk in the most effective manner. She is passionate about educating others and her passion for this shined in the COVID era where Michelle conducted weekly and then monthly webinars providing guidance to employers. Her podcast, Cammayo’s Compliance Talk, has gained popularity in the last three years to become a favorite amongst our clients. She also contributes regularly to our Blog and has authored several articles for industry-related newsletters. Michelle’s consultative approach with employers provides practical advice as employers endeavor to be compliant.

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