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Summer 2023  Volume 16, Number 2        

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New DEA Rules Could Reduce Telehealth Access

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth became more popular and accessible, providing a convenient way for patients to connect with their doctors.

With telehealth, you don’t have to travel long distances for routine check-ups and consultations. This makes healthcare easier to access and more efficient for everyone.

Telehealth Services Decline in Use

Despite its benefits, national telehealth usage declined by 3.7% in October 2022. The most significant declines were observed in the South, Midwest, and West, while the Northeast saw increased utilization. This decline is likely not because people don’t appreciate its convenience but rather because barriers to access have been reinstated. During the pandemic, telehealth made it possible for people to access health services without leaving their homes. However, now as the situation is improving, some of these flexibilities are getting rolled back.

New Regulations May Impact Telehealth Access and Counter Benefits

Some new rules proposed by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) could further limit the flexibility of getting prescriptions through telehealth. These rules aim to prevent over-prescribing certain medications on the internet but may also make it harder for some people to get the care they need.

For instance, some strong pain medications might require an in-person visit with a doctor before you can get a prescription. Other drugs, like those used to treat opioid addiction, can be prescribed through telehealth for a limited time but will need an in-person visit for a refill. Sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medications also fall under these new rules.

Interestingly, studies have shown that telehealth has actually helped with opioid addiction rather than making the problem worse. According to a 2022 study published in JAMA Psychiatry, the expanded use of telehealth services during the pandemic reduced the risk of opioid overdoses. These new regulations, designed to protect people, could unintentionally negate telehealth’s advantages, especially for individuals in rural areas or those with limited mobility.

The Impact of These Regulations

The new regulations could mean losing access to numerous telehealth benefits, such as:

  • Comfort and ease: Telehealth enables you to receive medical advice and treatment from home, simplifying the balance between your health and daily life.
  • Improved access: For individuals in remote areas or with limited mobility, telehealth provides healthcare access without the need to travel long distances.
  • Time and cost savings: Telehealth can help you save on transportation expenses and time away from work by minimizing the need for in-person appointments.
  • Consistent care: Telehealth ensures you can continue seeing your doctor even if you move or have trouble traveling, maintaining the continuity of your care.


The American Hospital Association (AHA) supports telehealth growth and is working on legislation to study its use during the pandemic and propose improvements. This stance suggests that the AHA recognizes telehealth’s importance in enhancing healthcare accessibility and is dedicated to making it more accessible and better for everyone.

However, organizations like the DEA are proposing new rules that could potentially limit your access to telehealth services. Furthermore, these rules might only be the starting point. Although the DEA intends to protect people, it’s a slippery slope. If not carefully considered, stricter regulations could inadvertently create more barriers to telehealth access, ultimately doing more harm than good.

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In this issue:

This Just In...Study Reveals Total Lifetime Medicare Costs

Use the 4% Rule to Secure Your Financial Future

New DEA Rules Could Reduce Telehealth Access

Why You Should Buy Life and Disability Insurance Together

Biden Administration and Congress Attempt to Secure Future of Medicare




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