The Obama Administration highlighted Wednesday multiple steps it is taking in its latest efforts against the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic.
The efforts range from expanding treatment access, to tougher prescription drug monitoring, and accelerating research on pain and opioid misuse.
- One of the efforts revolves around the encouragement of safe pain management, which will ease hospitals' current concerns about HCAHPS survey pain management questions that impact hospital scores.
HHS' HCAHPS proposal comes in response to feedback from clinicians who reported feeling pressured to overprescribe opioids in order to achieve the best possible scores on pain management survey questions that are connected to Medicare payments.
Although those questions currently only have a "very limited connection" to payments, the proposal would remove the pain management questions from the hospital payment scoring calculation, HHS said, to mitigate any perception of financial pressure to overprescribe. Hospitals would continue to survey patients about their pain management experience without seeing any impact to their payment level.
The announcement came as Congress wrestles with the matter of adding new funding to legislation aimed at combating opiod abuse, with the administration calling for $1.1 billion to aid patients in accessing treatment wherever they live.
Other efforts highlighted Wednesday include improvements to prescription drug monitoring, specifically for the Indian Health Service and Department of Veterans Affairs; further prescriber education; accelerated research; expanded telemedicine for rural populations; safe disposal; and housing support for those in recovery.