Bill would educate seniors on opioid alternatives

WASHINGTON, DC — Congressman John Faso (R-NY), Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH), and Congressman Peter Welch (D-VT) have introduced legislation to improve efforts to educate seniors on opioid alternatives through the Medicare Part D program. The proposed legislation, HR 5685, is titled the “Medicare Opioid Safety Education Act of 2018.”

Currently, seniors are given an informational booklet titled “Medicare & You” prior to becoming Medicare-eligible, which details the services available to them upon enrollment opening. The word “opioid” appears only once in the booklet. The legislation introduced today would substantially improve opioid education in the booklet by adding available opioid alternatives and additional educational information.

“Nearly one in three seniors on Medicare part D were prescribed an opioid during the year 2016. That statistic underlines just how pervasive opioid pain killers are among seniors who often are dealing with issues stemming from chronic pain,” said Faso.

“Over half a million Medicare beneficiaries were written prescriptions for excessive amounts of opioids in 2016, and 90,000 beneficiaries are at serious risk of opioid misuse or overdose,” said Renacci. “We have to get out of this mindset that an opioid prescription is the first and best method of pain management.”

“The opioid crisis is ravaging communities in Vermont and across the country,” said Welch. “It is imperative that we provide information to patients on the risks of opioid use as well as less addictive alternatives. This bipartisan legislation will provide seniors with vital information on the treatments available to them through Medicare.”

 

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