By Maia Szalavitz for VICE. Last week, President Barack Obama announced that he will seek just over $1 billion to fight opioid addiction, the majority targeted at expanding treatment. But he didn’t take the one step that could immediately reduce the record-high overdose death rate: easing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) with methadone and buprenorphine by reducing onerous regulations.
Although the administration has been considering action for at least several years, it hasn’t lifted the cap that stops doctors from prescribing buprenorphine to more than 30 patients in their first year and 100 after that. When asked by VICE on Twitter when this might happen, “Drug Czar” Michael Botticelli replied that the department of Health and Human Services (HHS) “is working on proposed regulations.”