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AMA Outlines Steps to Eliminate Barriers to Treatment of Opioid Addiction at AHIMA19

CHICAGO – September 17, 2019 – Opioid addiction has been declared a public health emergency in the United States. The American Medical Association’s (AMA) President and former president shared the AMA Opioid Task Force’s recommendations calling on policy makers to eliminate barriers to the treatment of opioid addiction today at the AHIMA19: Health Data and Information Conference, the annual meeting of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

Patrice A. Harris, M.D., M.A., AMA president, and David O. Barbe, M.D., M.H.A., vice-president of regional operations at Mercy Hospital Springfield and former AMA president, urged policy makers to eliminate barriers to opioid addiction treatment by:

  • Removing prior authorization, step therapy and other inappropriate administrative burdens or barriers that delay or deny care for FDA-approved medications used in medication-assisted treatment
  • Supporting assessment, referral, and treatment for co-occurring mental disorders, as well as enforce state and federal laws that require insurance parity for mental health and substance use disorders
  • Removing administrative and other barriers to comprehensive, multimodal, multidisciplinary pain care and rehabilitation programs
  • Supporting maternal and child health by increasing access to evidence-based treatment, preserving families and ensuring policies are nonpunitive
  • Supporting reforms in the civil and criminal justice system that help ensure access to high quality, evidence-based care for opioid use disorder including medication-assisted treatment (MAT)

Fifteen states have introduced legislation or taken action based on AMA model legislation regarding the opioid crisis. The AMA is calling on remaining states to follow.

“We are working to better integrate prescription drug monitoring programs into our practices, increasing patient access to life-saving naloxone, becoming trained to provide buprenorphine inoffice for the treatment of opioid use disorder and advocating for evidence-based treatments in Congress and state legislatures across the nation,” said Harris. “We must continue to be strategic in our thinking and evidence-based in our approach.”

In November 2017, AHIMA developed an opioid addiction tip sheet to guide providers in identifying the documentation elements necessary for recording opioid use, abuse. or dependency.

“It is imperative that organizations and providers maintain high quality clinical documentation to guarantee the data on this topic is accurate to continue to properly guide research and education regarding opioid addiction,” said AHIMA CEO Wylecia Wiggs Harris, Ph.D., C.A.E. “Healthcare professionals must continue to work together to put an end to this public health emergency.”


AHIMA is a global nonprofit association of health information (HI) professionals. AHIMA represents professionals who work with health data for more than one billion patient visits each year. AHIMA’s mission of empowering people to impact health drives our members and credentialed HI professionals to ensure that health information is accurate, complete, and available to patients and providers. Our leaders work at the intersection of healthcare, technology, and business, and are found in data integrity and information privacy job functions worldwide.

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