State Addiction Experts: Expanding Telehealth Access for Medication-Assisted Treatment in New Hampshire Will Save Lives
Better Life Partners applauds passing of HB 503
HANOVER, N.H. (June 27, 2022) – Better Life Partners, the leading community-based provider of substance use treatment in New Hampshire and throughout New England, commends Governor Sununu’s signing of the state’s HB 503 amendment on Friday, allowing individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) to access medication-assisted treatment (MAT) through telehealth without an initial in-person visit.
“This legislation will save lives across New Hampshire, plain and simple,” said Dr. David de Gijsel, Chief Health Officer of Better Life Partners. “One of the most critical pieces in treating substance use disorders is meeting people where they are at the moment they seek treatment. If we delay care by requiring an in person visit, substance use providers will lose 25 out of every 100 people who reach out for help due to a lack of transportation, childcare, or flexibility in work schedule. Telehealth allows for rapid access to treatment, especially to life-saving medications such as buprenorphine.”
In October, Better Life Partners’ Chief Health Officer, Dr. David de Gijsel, and Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, Steve Kelly, testified for the signing of the amendment and presented compelling data in its favor before the New Hampshire Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Better Life Partners’ leaders met with Senator Sherman on several occasions to urge the bill forward and wrote letters to the House and Governor.
The ability to start medications for OUD via telehealth will immediately increase access to lifesaving treatment by removing a key obstacle often faced by people seeking MAT in New Hampshire. The state previously required an in-person appointment for MAT initiation, which resulted in disparities in access to care, particularly among people in rural areas or other areas with limited provider availability, people with limited mobility, and people with limited financial resources or social support for childcare.
The move to eliminate the in-person requirement comes after the pandemic demonstrated telehealth’s impact on delivering MAT quickly, safely, and effectively. The number of people seeking and staying in treatment significantly improved when telehealth restrictions eased during the state’s emergency order. According to Better Life Partners’ data, 96 percent of members attended medical evaluations while the emergency order was in place. However, when the order expired on June 11th, 2021, and telehealth MAT initiation was once again limited to a few specific locations, rates of folks seeking and remaining engaged in care dropped, wait times for appointments across the state rose, and the number of overdoses rebounded to pre-COVID levels.
“The shameful reality is that equitable, safe and affordable substance use treatment remains out of reach for many Americans,” said Juliana Ekong MD, Chief Executive Officer of Better Life Partners. “It is our job as treatment providers, legislators and agents of change to make it as easy as possible for people to access effective, compassionate treatment at the moment they seek it. While we celebrate this important milestone, we know there is still a lot to be done to continue combating the opioid and substance use crises here in New Hampshire as well as across the country.”
ABOUT BETTER LIFE PARTNERS
Better Life Partners provides what it takes to heal from addiction. For whomever, wherever, whenever. With a focus on both individual care and impactful community partnerships, Better Life Partners delivers harm reduction services and medical and behavioral health care that drive improved health and life outcomes. Committed to an equitable, accessible, and integrated health system, Better Life Partners provides the tools needed for everyone to live a healthy life full of belonging, love, and purpose.
Better Life Partners is currently providing exceptional care in New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts, and contracted with Medicaid, Medicare, and most Commercial insurers. Powered by a compassionate clinical team and backed by F-Prime Capital, .406 Ventures and other investors, Better Life Partners is positioned to build the multispecialty practice of the future. To learn more, visit https://betterlifepartners.com.
Claire Holtz, email@example.com