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Indiana Senators introduce legislation encouraging non-opioid pain management alternatives

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WOWO): Indiana US Senators Joe Donnelly (D) and Todd Young (R) introduced this week a bipartisan bill to encourage doctors to use non-opioid alternatives in Medicare.

The Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management Improvement Act of 2018 is named after Todd A. Graham, M.D. – a doctor in South Bend, Indiana with over three decades of service – who was murdered on July 26th, 2017 for refusing to prescribe an opioid to a patient.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on Hoosier families and communities, it’s essential that Medicare beneficiaries have better access to non-addictive pain management options,” Donnelly said. “I was proud to join Senator Young in introducing this bipartisan bill that would honor the late Dr. Todd Graham, a Hoosier, and help improve our ability to provide non-addictive treatments to treat those battling pain.”

“The tragic and senseless death of Dr. Graham highlights just how bad the opioid epidemic has become,” Young added. “It is critical that we examine non-opioid alternatives for treating pain in order to help prevent the spread of addiction that is destroying lives and devastating communities.”

The bill would require the Department of Health and Human Services to solicit stakeholder feedback and submit a pain management study to Congress on recommendations to improve payment and coverage policies related to the use of non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Parts A or B.

The report would include an evaluation of potential legislative and administrative changes to Medicare to allow beneficiaries better access to non-opioid treatments and technologies.  It would also analyze Medicare coverage and payment for medical devices, non-opioid based drugs, and other therapies approved or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pain.

The bill would also require HHS to develop recommendations on legislative and administrative action in the following policy areas:

  • Expanding coverage and payment for non-opioid pain management therapy options that minimize the risk of substance use disorder.
  • Treatment strategies for beneficiaries with psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders, who are at risk of suicide, or have other comorbidities that require specialty care.
  • Appropriate case management for beneficiaries who transition between inpatient and outpatient settings, or between opioid therapy to non-opioid therapy.
  • Outreach to educate Medicare beneficiaries and providers on alternative, non-opioid therapies to manage and treat acute and chronic pain, including the potential creation of a beneficiary education tool.

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