Long-term care advocates are applauding sweeping legislation passed by the Senate and Congress this week that aims to address the nation’s deadly opioid epidemic.
Nearly 125,000 older Americans were hospitalized in 2015 for opioid related diagnoses, according to one report. The bipartisan legislation creates, expands and authorizes programs within almost every federal agency, and aims to address prevention, treatment and recovery related to the drugs, the Washington Post reported.
LeadingAge Thursday said it was pleased to see several provisions in the bill to help address opioid dependence among the elderly population, including those in institutional settings. Allowing for the use of telehealth to detect and treat opioid dependence is “especially promising,” along with screening beneficiaries to determine whether they are at risk for opioid abuse, Barbara Gay, vice president of public policy communications, told McKnight’s.
“At the same time, in the post-acute care field, many of our members serve people recuperating from surgery, or who may have chronic conditions like severe arthritis that require effective pain management according to federal law,” Gay added. “We’re glad to see provisions of the legislation specifically relating to post-surgical pain, and we will continue working with the Drug Enforcement Administration and other agencies to make sure that the people our members serve have access to pain medication they need without becoming dependent on dangerous drugs.”
President Trump was expected to sign the legislation, the Post reported.
Meanwhile, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission is meeting this week to take a closer look at the issue of opioid use among the senior population. It’s scheduled two sessions, with one discussing Medicare Part D drug beneficiaries who have experienced bad opioid reactions, and another exploring whether the hospital payment system encourages the prescribing of opioids, Bloomberg reports.