The Maryland General Assembly will consider a number of new efforts to address the opioid epidemic in Maryland. With more than 2,000 estimated 2016 overdose deaths and more than one-third of all adults in the state reporting that someone close to them is addicted to opioids, state politicians are starting to propose new laws that they know will be popular with their constituents.
With fewer than three-percent of all physicians accredited to prescribe Suboxone and other buprenorphine related medications, the Heroin and Opioid Prevention Effort (HOPE) and Treatment Act of 2017 will require that some (as yet to be determined) number of health care facilities make providers available to prescribe buprenorphine products. As an inducement to increase the number of facilities that prescribe buprenorphine, the bill includes some incentives tied to reimbursement rates.
Its only in bill form, and who knows what the final language will include, but its promising that the State is trying to find ways to induce buprenorphine prescriptions.
Given the dearth of available physician prescribing capacity, the HOPE Act could never work without the anticipated introduction of Nurse Practitioners and Physicians Assistants who will soon be accredited to prescribe Suboxone and other buprenorphine-based medications.