Lawyers concerned about Alabama’s telemedicine law

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) – Concerns have grown over the regulations included in Alabama’s new telemedicine law. The recently enacted law requires patients to see a doctor in person before being prescribed a controlled substance in a virtual setting.

The law was put in place to prevent telemedicine fraud, but a healthcare company says it negatively impacts people with opioid use disorders.

Dr. Brian Clear of Bicycle Health says controlled substance treatment is the best way to treat opioid addiction.

“We know very well that telemedicine is an effective way to deliver that care,” Clear said.

He added that in-person treatment can be daunting for someone with opioid use disorder, and only 40% of counties nationwide have these providers licensed.

“Most counties don’t even have anyone, requiring long journeys to get treatment,” Clear said.

That’s why Bicycle Health launched Alabama Airdrop.

“The gratitude of the patients that we have come here to help them maintain their treatment has been really deep and profound,” said Dr. Amelia Burgess, program physician.

Burgess and other doctors from Bicycle Health flew to Alabama to meet patients in person, but they couldn’t reach everyone and stopped taking new patients to Alabama.

“In an ideal world, this law would look like a law that does not place arbitrary restrictions on the use of drugs that work through telemedicine,” Clear said.

However, there are other treatment options for people with opioid use disorder.

Mark Litvine is founder and marketing director of ROSS Recovery Center, an addiction support center.

“Six months ago we were getting 800 to 1,000 calls a month statewide in Alabama,” Litvine said. “That number has grown tremendously.”

The center has locations across the state and offers help for people with all substance use disorders.

“If someone dies, they have no chance of recovering,” Litvine said. “And we try to keep people alive.”

Litvine also says the center plans to implement a new medication-assisted recovery program late next month.

If you or someone you know has a substance use disorder, they can call the ROSS Recovery Center 24/7 hotline at 844-307-1760.

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