Press Releases

Today, U.S. Congressmen Scott Peters (CA-52), and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-8), introduced a bipartisan bill that would give patients greater access to innovative non-opioid alternatives for postoperative pain management.

“The opioid crisis has devastated communities across the country. This bill will replace an existing incentive to prescribe opioids with an incentive to create less-expensive, less addictive painkillers,” said Rep. Peters. 

“In countless communities across Indiana and the nation, the opioid epidemic is leaving families broken and communities in crisis,” said Dr. Bucshon. “One of the ways to address the crisis is to prevent patients from misusing or becoming addicted to opioids in the first place by promoting the use of non-opioid alternatives to address a patient’s pain. Unfortunately, certain Medicare policies disincentivize the use of non-opioid alternatives. This, in turn, deadlocks innovation and development of new non-opioid alternatives. This common-sense legislation addresses the lack of non-opioid alternatives for post-surgical pain management and begins to move our society away from the destructive crisis raging nationwide. Physicians and patients need access to additional effective pain management options that do not come with a serious risk of dependence.”

Existing rate-setting policies at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) encourage providers to prescribe opioids, which are relatively cheap. Today, non-opioid pain medications are cost-prohibitive for hospitals and physicians, resulting in stagnation of research and innovation in non-opioid pain management options. This bill improves incentives for innovation through additional payments for non-opioid pain management alternatives. To qualify for payment under this policy, non-opioid alternatives must demonstrate a substantial clinical improvement compared to the benefits of available drugs on the market.

According to the Office of the Inspector General, 1 in 3 Medicare Part D beneficiaries received a prescription opioid in 2016. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that in 2016, 11.5 million Americans misused prescription opioids and more than 2 million Americans had an opioid-use disorder. That is in part because opioids are frequently prescribed as the pre-approved, cheap pain management option for many surgical procedures. Many health care professionals and patient advocacy groups have flagged this as an issue and have asked Congress to fix it as part of any legislative initiative to fight the opioid crisis. 

“I want to commend Representatives Peters and Bucshon for their legislation creating new incentives for non-opioids in the post-surgical setting. As an organization representing over 4,500 interventional pain physicians across the country it is critical patients have access to new, innovative therapies to treat post-surgical pain,” said Laxmaiah Manchikanti, MD, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians.

“I would like to commend Congressmen Peters and Bucshon for proposing this legislation and taking an important first step toward reducing the number of people that become addicted to opioids through the surgical setting. It is my hope that, through this bill, physicians, patients and families will gain access to new effective non-opioid pain management options to address postsurgical pain, lessening exposure to opioids and stopping addiction before it starts,” said Travis Bornstein, Founder of Hope United.

The legislation was introduced less than a week after Rep. Peters helped pass a package of bipartisan opioid bills out of the Energy and Commerce Committee. In 2016, he helped pass more than a dozen bills aimed at a comprehensive solution to the opioid crisis, the use of new technology for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to fight the spread of fentanyl, and the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act with significant funding boosts directed at addressing opioid abuse.