HHS OIG Issues Report on COVID-19’s Impact on Opioid Treatment Programs
HHS OIG issued a report summarizing its findings on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on opioid treatment programs (OTPs), derived from interviews with 142 programs through June 22. OTPs reported challenges related to:
(1) maintaining pre-pandemic service levels;
(2) managing impacts on facility operations;
(3) implementing and using telehealth;
(4) obtaining treatment medications, personal protective equipment, and cleaning supplies;
(5) maintaining patient participation in OTP activities;
(6) dealing with limitations posed by existing Federal guidance;
(7) providing take-home doses to patients; and
(8) implementing governmental guidance.
The report also itemizes the countermeasures that OTPs have taken since the COVID-19 pandemic, which include:
(1) encouraging or requiring various personal safety measures for patients and staff;
(2) implementing or expanding the use of telehealth to continue providing services;
(3) increasing the number of take-home doses to reduce the number of patients visiting facilities;
(4) making physical changes to facilities and increasing staffing flexibilities; and
(5) ensuring that patients received treatment medications.
The report is intended to support HHS’s goal of reducing opioid morbidity and mortality and to help SAMHSA by providing information on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on OTPs. However, HHS OIG acknowledged that the report reflects the challenges of OTPs as of June 2020 and may not reflect the current environment.