GAO: Feds Need Specific Strategies for Medication-Assisted Treatment for Opioid Addiction

November 2, 2017

The federal government should consider expanding access to medication-assisted treatments for opioid addicts, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report to Congress.

The report recommends that HHS develop specific performance measures for evaluating their grants and set expansion targets for wider access, as well as establish timeframes for evaluating the success of those efforts.

Four HHS grant programs have focused on expanding access to MAT in various settings, such as rural primary care practices and health centers, since 2015. Another program involves regulatory changes to expand treatment capacity, by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe certain treatments.

GAO researchers found that medication-assisted treatment — which combines behavioral therapy and the use of certain medications such as methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone — can be more effective in reducing opioid use and reducing program dropouts than abstinence-based treatment.

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