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AAOS Included in House White Paper on Opioids

On Wednesday, April 11, 2018, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA), along with Subcommittee on Health Chairman Peter Roskam (R-IL) and Ranking Member Sandy Levin (D-MI), released a white paper with solutions to combat the opioid epidemic. This white paper is the result of feedback the Committee received following a Request for Information (RFI) that was sent in February to key stakeholders asking for recommendations; lawmakers and the Administration may consider to prevent and treat opioid abuse and dependence in the Medicare program. This RFI yielded robust feedback from 110 stakeholders, including AAOS.

“Combating – and ultimately defeating – the opioid epidemic is an all-hands-on-deck effort,” stated Chairman Brady. “We have a duty to ensure that the over 42 million Americans who receive prescriptions through the Medicare program are not going to fall victim to this devastating crisis. This white paper outlines next steps and potential legislative and regulatory solutions so that our families and communities no longer have to see so many of our loved ones suffer through this epidemic any longer.”

In the AAOS response, we noted that stakeholders need to work together to increase research and funding for alternative pain management techniques; improve prescription monitoring; and create more effective education programs for clinicians and patients. The AAOS response also highlighted several AAOS initiatives – from
public service announcements to a pain relief toolkit – to encourage our members to practice safe and effective pain management and treatment.

In particular, the Ways and Means white paper highlighted AAOS recommendations related to screening for opioid use disorders. As AAOS noted in our response, physicians and care providers need to identify patients at greater risk for opioid misuse and abuse … along with patients with symptomatic depression and ineffective coping strategies, prior to elective surgery. Physicians, the public, and policy makers should value interventions to lessen stress, improve coping strategies, and enhance support for patients recovering from injury or surgery.

Other recommendations from stakeholders included in the white paper include:

  • Improve treatment and reimbursements, including increasing access to Medication Assisted Treatment, utilization and access to non-opioid treatments of pain, as well as modernizing reimbursement and quality measures;
  • Utilize tools to prevent overprescribing and abuse, including Part D lock-in, limiting prescriptions, and better data tracking; and
  • Enhance screening for opioid use disorders, provider education and communication, and patient education.

“People of all ages suffer from opioid addiction, and we must make sure every American has access to the treatment they need,” stated Ranking Member Neal. “Specifically, we must make it a top priority to ensure Medicare covers opioid treatment programs. This bipartisan report highlights a number of actions Congress can take to provide valuable tools that help us combat the opioid epidemic and save lives.”

CLICK HERE to read the white paper.

CLICK HERE to read the AAOS response.