Last month, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R I) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act to support the expansion of telehealth services for substance use disorder treatment? specifically, for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) The bill would make permanent the waiver allowing the prescription of buprenorphine and other necessary drugs (not methadone) without needing an in-person visit first, and would require Medicare to pay for audio-only telehealth visits The flexibility was added this spring to reduce exposure to COVID-19, but the lawmakers say it's necessary to increase overall access to MAT during an opioid crisis? The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives and the increase in overdoses we're seeing only increases the need for additional flexibility to help those suffering from addiction I've had the opportunity to hear about the successes of telehealth in treating substance use disorder directly from behavioral health providers who have continued their fight against the addiction epidemic amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic ,? said Senator Portman in announcing the bill? Overdoses have taken a heartbreaking toll in Rhode Island since the coronavirus pandemic began ,? said Senator Whitehouse? Telehealth sessions have been a lifeline for those walking the long road to recovery during a stressful, isolating time Our bipartisan legislation would ensure that recovery support continues to be widely available from the comfort of home after the pandemic wanes?