Representatives McKinley and Sewell Introduce Legislation to Expand Access to Non-Opioid Alternatives

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Washington, November 20, 2019 | comments
U.S. Reps. David McKinley (WV-01) and Terri Sewell (AL-07) introduced the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act today, legislation to help address barriers to non-opioid pain management for seniors enrolled in Medicare, thereby helping stem the opioid epidemic across the nation.

Specifically, the bill would address payment disincentives for practitioners to prescribe non-opioid treatment alternatives in surgical settings by requiring CMS to place non-opioid treatments on par with other separately paid drugs and devices in Medicare Part B.    

"Currently, our healthcare payment system is unnecessarily encouraging the use of opioids," Rep. McKinley said. “Our bill would ensure that CMS does not disincentivize the use of innovative non-opioid drugs and devices to treat and manage pain. While pain management for all patients should be handled individually, opioids should not be the first or only option given.”

“Non-opioid treatments and therapies can be successful in replacing, delaying or reducing the use of opioids to treat post-surgical pain, and reduce the risk of opioid addiction,” Rep. Sewell said. “The NOPAIN Act would reduce disincentives for practitioners to provide patients enrolled in Medicare with non-opioid pain management, giving doctors the ability to prescribe treatments that are best-suited for their patients’ needs.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths accounting for 47,600 deaths in 2017 and 130 Americans every day. Additionally, the CDC estimates that the economic costs associated with prescription opioid misuse exceeds $78 billion annually. These costs include those associated with health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment and the judicial system.

Research shows that patients receiving an opioid prescription after short-stay surgeries have a 44% increased risk of opioid use. One 2018 study showed that 12 percent of patients who had a soft tissue or orthopedic operation in the year prior reported that they had become addicted or dependent on opioids.

“As a nation, we spend hundreds of billions of dollars every year countering the opioid epidemic, including as much as $214 billion this year,” said Chris Fox, Executive Director of Voices for Non-opioid Choices.  “We can do better – we can help patients get the care they need while, at the same time, ridding our communities of excess pills that oftentimes lead to misuse and diversion.  This legislation will go a long way towards reducing rates of opioid addiction in this country by properly incentivizing the use of non-opioid pain management approaches.”

The NOPAIN Act is available here.

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