HCN News & Notes

AMA Hails Aetna’s Removal of Prior Authorization for Opioid Treatment

CHICAGO — The American Medical Assoc. (AMA) recently commended Aetna for joining other health insurers in eliminating prior authorization for opioid treatment as of March 1.

“Patient lives will be saved by Aetna’s decision to remove prior authorization for treatment of substance-use disorders,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, chair of the AMA board of trustees and chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse. “The AMA has advocated strongly for removing this hurdle, and we are pleased by Aetna’s announcement. Increasing access to treatment is crucial to reversing the nation’s opioid epidemic, and we urge all payers to show the leadership that Aetna has taken to make patient care a priority over administrative hurdles.”

Physicians say requiring prior authorization for patients delays treatment for patients who might need it immediately and might not return for treatment that is delayed several days.

The AMA announced last month it had joined a coalition of 16 other healthcare organizations urging health plans, benefit managers, and others to reform prior-authorization requirements imposed on medical tests, procedures, devices, and drugs.

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