Roberts Explores Use of Telemedicine to Help Fight Rural Opioid Addiction

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Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas intends to introduce legislation to allow telemedicine to address rural opioid addiction. During a recent Senate panel hearing, Roberts said rural residents suffering from substance abuse “face many challenges in accessing the clinical services they need.” Roberts says community mental health and addiction treatment facilities in rural areas often do not house a full-time clinician who can prescribe controlled substances for the treatment of substance use disorders. Further, the Republican says many rural patients need to travel long distances, sometimes across state lines, to access the needed treatments. He says the use of telemedicine, the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through communications technology, could be a way to reduce the travel burden on rural residents. His comments came during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee.