Virtual substance use disorder provider Workit Health has announced plans to reduce its workforce by 100 employees as a result of Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) new proposal that would effectively undue controlled substance prescribing via telehealth.
Workit, like many telehealth companies focused on treating substance use disorder, prescribes medication assisted treatment virtually. The new DEA proposal would require patients seeking MAT treatment for opioid use disorder to have an in-person visit.
“Our team was cautiously optimistic that the DEA would follow the recommendations from medical professional organizations and advocacy groups and make telehealth treatment for substance use disorder permanently accessible without an in-person visit,” a Workit spokesperson told Behavioral Health Business. “However, during the past quarter, we’ve also developed operational plans that account for the proposed regulations if they go into effect unchanged on May 11th. As part of this plan, we’ve made the difficult decision to dedicate our resources to regions that serve the majority of our members.”
The company is offering employees affected by the reductions a 60-day notice and transition period, an additional severance and benefits package as well as outplacement support, according to the spokesperson.
“This decision was challenging but necessary for Workit Health to remain a sustainable and strong company amidst market shifts and regulatory changes,” the spokesperson said. “Although incredibly painful, making these operational changes now will ensure that Workit Health is able to provide quality, whole-person, and evidence-based care to the greatest number of people who need it for years to come.”
Founded in 2015, Workit has previously garnered investor attention. In 2021, the company announced that it raised $118 million in a Series C funding round led by Insight Partners, with participation from CVS Health Ventures, FirstMark Capital, BCBS Venture Fund and 3L Capital.
The provider offers opioid, stimulant and alcohol use disorder treatment. It also provides care for co-occurring disorders.
The DEA released its new rule proposal on Feb. 24. Since then, it has faced a wave of backlash. The agency has received more than 21,000 comments on the rule, the bulk of those opposing the proposed rules in its current form.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the DEA relaxed regulations that required individuals to have an in-person visit before receiving MAT care. This left the door open for a number of virtual care providers including Bicycle Health, Boulder and Cerebral to begin virtual only MAT services. Cerebral has already announced that it plans to end its MAT services.