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We need sweeping action to curb opioid crisis

Dear Editor:

I never set out to become an addict.

Like so many people, my path of addiction began with a legal prescription for pain medication after I injured my knee. Every year, an estimated 3 million patients are prescribed post-surgical opioids and become dependent. More than 80% of heroin users trace their addiction to a legal prescription, including me.

My story has a happy ending. Through intensive, ongoing treatment and by the grace of God, I’m clean and sober today. Many others aren’t so lucky.

It’s important that patients have access to non-opioid pain treatments, many of which are FDA-approved and on the market. For Medicare enrollees, unfortunately, current reimbursement policies typically place these non-opioid alternatives out of reach.

Washington can change that. New, bipartisan legislation known as the NOPAIN Act (H.R. 5172) modernizes Medicare so that non-opioid pain therapies are more widely available as an option for older Americans. This is the kind of sweeping action we need to begin making a dent in our nation’s opioid epidemic. I ask that our elected representatives in Congress support this important legislation.

— Jeff Taylor is an appointee to Gov. Doug Ducey’s Substance Abuse Task Force.

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