Medicare Report on OUD Treatments through Telehealth, Additional Data on Overdose Rates


In a report released earlier this year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) looked at access to medications for treating opioid use disorder (OUD) by Medicare beneficiaries before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. CMS found that Medicare beneficiaries accessing OUD care had fewer inpatient and/or emergency department visits. Among individuals receiving OUD care, few disparities were found in telehealth use based on race, ethnicity, or social deprivation indicators. However, disparities were present based on Medicare eligibility, dual eligibility status, and rurality.

Main Stories:

  • CDC Releases Additional Data on Overdose Deaths
  • CMS Request for Information on Medicaid Access to Care
  • House Energy and Commerce Hearing on Mental Health
  • Webinar on Innovation in the Community Health Workforce

CDC Releases Additional Data on Overdose Deaths

In November 2021, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced over 100,000 individuals died from an overdose between April 2020 and April 2021. Since the release of this data, CDC has continued to track overdose deaths state by state, showing record highs through September 2021. In particular, many states have seen overdose deaths increase and, notably, a number of states have seen tragic increases in the rate of overdose deaths during the pandemic. For example, Alaska saw overdose deaths increase by 60 percent; Vermont had an increase of 59 percent; and in Kansas, overdose deaths increased nearly 49 percent.

CMS Request for Information on Medicaid Access to Care

Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a request for information (RFI) on access to care and coverage for individuals enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The agency is seeking feedback on health care access, specifically calling for responses related to accessing health care services and supports and analyzing adequate provider payment rates to bolster provider availability and quality. CMS plans to institute a multifaceted approach to bolster equitable access to health care for these individuals as a result of this RFI. The RFI is open for a 60-day public comment period, set to close on April 18, 2022.

House Energy and Commerce Hearing on Mental Health

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing last week to discuss the growing mental health challenges faced by youth. Members of Congress and witnesses called for a multi-faceted approach to support the mental health and well-being of youth, suggesting that parity is needed between the coverage and acceptance of mental health and physical health services. Additionally, witnesses offered insight on the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency’s (PHE) effects on the health care workforce, substance use, and mental health, advocating for the expansion of telehealth to alleviate many of these issues. To read a summary of this hearing, click here.

Webinar on Innovation in the Community Health Workforce

On March 3, 2022, at 1:00 PM EST, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Center for Innovation, in partnership with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), will hold a webinar and roundtable on Innovation in the Community Health Workforce, looking specifically at successful international models. This roundtable will look at workforce innovation and the use of technology in community-based health settings while engaging with stakeholders who connect with their communities through lived experiences. To attend and participate in the webinar, register here, or to watch the webinar and roundtable, click here.


Nominations Open for Advocacy Leadership Awards. The National Council for Mental Wellbeing is accepting nominations of individuals and organizations for their achievements in community, state and federal advocacy, as well as their public policy successes in ensuring access to services and supports for individuals with mental health and substance use challenges. For more information or to nominate yourself, an organization, or someone you know for an Advocacy Leadership Award, click here. The deadline to nominate is March 25 and awardees will be announced during Hill Day at Home on June 8.


Temporary Funding Bill Signed into Law. Last week, the Senate voted 65-27 to approve H.R. 6617, the continuing resolution to fund the federal government through March 11, 2022. The legislation was signed into law by President Biden.

Biden Letter to Speaker on Continued PHE. Last Friday, President Biden sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi stating his intention to extend the public health emergency (PHE) beyond March 1, 2022.

Guest Author

Mollie Laird
Associate, Federal Policy