Trending News Today: Insurer to Remove Barrier to Treatment for Opioid Abuse

Top news of the day from across the healthcare landscape.

Aetna recently announced plans to remove a significant barrier for patients seeking treatment for opioid misuse disorder, which will take effect in March. The insurer will stop requiring physician approval before Suboxone is prescribed to ease withdrawal symptoms when used in conjunction with counseling, according to Kaiser Health News. This prior authorization practice can result in delayed treatment, which may increase the risk of relapse or overdose.

On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced that GOP legislators plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and revise the tax code without Democratic votes, according to The New York Times. The lawmakers plan to use a parliamentary maneuver to pass the legislation through a budget bill that cannot be blocked by Democrats. However, McConnell previously criticized Democrats for passing the ACA without Republican votes in 2010.

Health insurers have voiced concerns over the replacement plan for the ACA that was introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last week. While the plan would eliminate the coverage mandate, it offered no approach to improve enrollment, according to The Washington Post. If a new provision is not introduced to encourage enrollment, insurers may be forced to cover costly, sick patients, but cannot offset these costs by covering healthier patients.