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Emergency Rule Facilitates Medication-Assisted Treatment in Florida

Effective immediately, Florida’s Department of Children and Families promulgated an emergency rule with the hope of facilitating Medication-Assisted Treatment for those suffering from opioid use disorders. The crisis in Florida has been devastating. Deaths and overdoses due to opioid use in the state has increased by 37% percent over the past three years.

The emergency rule facilitates Medication-Assisted Treatment by modifying the clinical and operational standards that would otherwise apply; specifically, the emergency rule:

·        preserves the requirement that providers conduct their initial assessment of all methadone  MAT patients face-to-face, but allows providers to use telehealth to conduct all other assessments or re-assessments of MAT patients;

·        changes the criteria for MAT take-home privileges, which includes criteria for “stable” and “less stable” individuals (having completed 30 and 60 days of treatment, respectively); and

·        expands maximum caseload for full-time counselors to 50 individuals participating in MAT (up from 32).

This emergency rule (65DER22-2) replaces a substantively identical emergency rule that had just expired. Both rules are predicated on a declaration by Florida’s Governor that the opioid epidemic threatens Florida with an emergency. This emergency rule is effective as of February 24th, and is set to expire 90 days later.