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How will the SUPPORT Act impact medical professionals?

Lawmakers recently passed the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) Act. This proposal passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by President Donald Trump on October 24, 2018. The SUPPORT Act will have a major impact on healthcare throughout the country.

Main impact: Expansion of anti-kickback prohibitions

The law includes a provision that essentially works to extend anti-kickback provisions with medical labs and clinical treatment facilities to include private insurance providers. The language of the provision is broad, prohibiting the use of any rebate or kickback “directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, in cash or in kind, in return for referring a patient or patronage to a recovery home, clinical treatment facility, or laboratory.” This change will likely increase the risk of medical professionals accused of anti-kickback type violations.

Additional factors: Changes to benefit programs and reporting requirements

Three additional examples that will impact healthcare professionals include:

  • Public benefits programs. The SUPPORT Act attempts to mitigate the risk of opioid addiction by screening starting Medicare recipients and providing additional aid to pregnant mothers and children using Medicaid.
  • Transparency. The law also expands the reach of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. The Sunshine Act requires drug and medical device companies to report payments or other benefits given to physicians or teaching hospitals. The SUPPORT Act extends this to also include physician assistants, nurses and midwives.
  • Medication disposal. The law also provides additional information on safe disposal practices for patients and hospice employees.

The law also results in funding for additional studies and reports on the opioid crisis. As such, it will likely fuel additional changes to the healthcare industry.