PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island health insurance commissioner says the state’s four major health insurers will end a practice that has been criticized for delaying treatment for patients with opioid dependency disorders.

Commissioner Dr. Kathleen Hittner’s office said Wednesday that Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island, Tufts Health Plan and United Healthcare have signed an agreement with Hittner to end the practice known as prior authorization.

Under prior authorization, a physician must seek approval from a patient’s health insurance plan to prescribe certain medications.

The practice is required by some health insurance companies to determine whether they’ll cover prescribed medications or procedures.

Hittner says the agreements will improve access to necessary medications— such as Suboxone —for patients with opioid dependence disorders.