December 16, 2022

Whitehouse, Portman Laud Proposed Rule to Continue Telehealth Treatment for Opioid Use Disorder

Whitehouse and Portman call for passage of TREATS Act to ensure opioid treatment guidelines become law

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have issued the following statements in response to the announcement by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) that the agency released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to continue Public Health Emergency-related telehealth provisions, update opioid treatment program guidelines, and reduce barriers for providers and patients:

“The opioid epidemic has taken a heartbreaking toll on Rhode Island families from every walk of life.  While pandemic isolation brought new challenges for people on the noble path of recovery, the expansion of telehealth treatment for substance use disorder was one bright spot.  This proposed rule would allow that flexibility to continue in line with our bipartisan TREATS Act.  We still need the DEA to act to ensure medication-assisted treatment continues to be available via telehealth,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Senator Portman has been my trusted partner across the aisle on this issue for many years, and I will work to carry on his legacy in the new Congress.”

“I am pleased to see that the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released their proposed rule which would continue to allow treatment for opioid use disorder via telehealth.  This continuation is nearly identical to our bipartisan TREATS Act.  I look forward to seeing The Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) action to ensure that controlled substances like buprenorphine can continue to be prescribed via telehealth,” said Senator Portman.  “Throughout the pandemic, this telehealth flexibility has saved lives.  I continue to urge Congress to pass the TREATS Act to ensure that this is not just a federal rule that can be rescinded but permanent federal law and thank Senator Sheldon Whitehouse who has been an outspoken advocate with me on this issue for many years.  I am also pleased to see that this proposed rule seeks to increase access by reducing barriers for both treatment providers and patients needing treatment for opioid addiction.”

SAMHSA’s proposed rule is consistent with the bipartisan TREATS Act that Whitehouse and Portman introduced in 2020.  The rule can be read here.


Meaghan McCabe, (401) 453-5294

Press Contact

Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921