Montana Attorney General Tim Fox sent a letter this week in support of 39 other state Attorneys General asking to remove federal barriers preventing doctors from offering treatment for opioid use disorder.

Fox said the letter was sent to both the U.S. House and the Senate.

“The statistics show that in 2017 there were over 70,000 Americans that died from drug overdose in the United States, and of those nearly 48,000 died because of opioids,” said Fox. “One of the problems that we’ve seen is that are barriers in federal law that keep people from getting the treatment that they need.”

Fox pointed out some specifics of the law that need to be overturned.

“We’d like to see one of the code of federal regulations changed so that physicians don’t have to go through so many hoops having to do with privacy issues,” he said. “There’s also a bill before Congress which is HR 2482 called the Mainstream Addiction Treatment Act, which will eliminate unnecessary burdens on doctors.”

Fox also wants to fully repeal the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion that generally prohibits state Medicaid programs from receiving federal reimbursement for adults between 21 and 65 receiving mental health or substance use disorder treatment in a residential treatment facility with more than 16 beds.

“It’s a disincentive for having treatment facilities that have enough beds that actually meet the need because there are waiting lists for individuals wanting to get mental health or substance abuse disorder treatment, and there’s just not enough availability out there,” he said. “We’d like to see that IMD exclusion fully repealed so that we can provide more treatment options for these individuals who need them.”

Fox said he has worked to raise awareness of substance abuse in Montana starting with the Resolve Montana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention campaign, instituted in 2014.