Thoughts on Federal Opioid-Fighting Legislation

The U.S. House Ways & Means Committee, on which Massachusetts Representative Richard Neal (D) is the ranking minority member, last week issued this white paper that summarizes the more than 100 comments the committee received on what legislation is needed to address the opioid crisis within the Medicare program.

While the committee received a wide variety of suggestions, it said the bulk of the comments could be sorted into one of the seven buckets: 1) treatment, reimbursement, and increasing access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT);  2) increasing utilization and access to non-opioid treatments of pain; 3) Part D lock-in (that is, limit Medicare beneficiaries with a history of drug abuse to seeing one prescriber and one pharmacy); 4) limiting prescriptions (initial supply, second fills, prior authorization, etc.); 5) better data tracking; 6) provider education; and 7) patient education.

Slightly more than half the respondents expressed support for or directly called on the committee to enact legislation to expand the use of MAT.