Opioids cost 1,375 Arizonans their lives in 2018 alone. This is a public health epidemic, and we need to leverage every available public-health policy tool to reduce opioid addiction. Fortunately, research into safer pain relievers is paying off and FDA-approved, opioid-free alternatives are now available. This means patients can recover from medical procedures in comfort while taking fewer, if any, opioid doses.
Sadly, these non-opioid medications aren’t being prescribed as often as they should for Medicare patients. The good news is that Congress is considering legislation to modernize Medicare reimbursements that will incentivize the use of non-opioid pain therapies. This would shift post-surgical treatment protocols in a safer direction and give doctors alternatives for responsibly treating pain without prescribing potentially addictive opioids.
On behalf of the Arizona Public Health Association, we urge Arizona’s elected leaders to support the NOPAIN Act (H. 5172) to ensure Medicare beneficiaries get the safest medical treatment possible.
Director Arizona Public Health Association and former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services.