October 23, 2018

Special Registration Process for Telehealth under the Ryan Haight Act

H.R. 6353


In response to the mandate from H.R. 6, the ATA convened a special member workgroup within its Telebehavioral Health Special Interest Group. The workgroup developed five recommendations for how a special registration process could be structured to enable the safe prescribing of certain controlled substances via telehealth.

Section 3232 of the Substance Use–Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act of 2018 sets a deadline for the Attorney General to activate the provision for special registration for telehealth, as specified in the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 (RH Act). The deadline comes into effect no later than October 24, 2019, one year after the date of enactment. The telehealth community has long advocated for activation of special registration to relieve the regulatory impasse that confronts many telehealth prescribers. Activation of the special registration provision will not only allow additional prescribers to use telehealth to combat the opioid crisis, but also provide the broad range of medical disciplines an avenue to expand access to quality care.

The workgroups recommendations:

  1. Update the current DEA registration process to specify distinctions between traditional and telehealth prescribing privileges.
  2. Allow both sites and prescribers to register for telehealth.
  3. Allow for a public comment period within the one-year timeline for special registration activation.
  4. Ensure that telehealth special registration is not restricted to any single discipline.
  5. Allow telehealth prescribers to apply for DEA registration numbers in multiple states at once.