Elmhurst, IL – The National Alliance of Medicare Set-Aside Professionals has endorsed the U.S. Surgeon General’s “Turn the Tide Rx” campaign to end the opioid epidemic. The campaign’s goals are to educate prescribers and the public about opioids, change the cultural perception of addiction, and mobilize health care professionals to improve prescribing practices.
NAMSAP wants physicians to adhere to evidence-based guidelines pertaining to opioids. The organization also would like to see the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services follow its own Part D guidelines when reviewing and approving Workers’ Compensation Medicare Set-Asides (WCMSAs).
The Turn the Tide Rx website promotes guidelines that encourage physicians to prescribe the lowest effective dose of immediate-release opioids only for acute pain and only for short durations, usually three days or less and rarely more than seven days. It says: “Higher dosages of opioids are associated with higher risk of overdose and death, but higher dosages have not been shown to reduce pain over the long term. Extra precautions should be used when increasing to greater than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day.”
“Opioid guidelines have been around for years, but there are situations where the treating physician is writing for high doses of long-acting opioids. In those cases, CMS requires that the WCMSA allocate for these opioids for the patient’s life expectancy,” says NAMSAP President Gary Patureau. “Our members often see more than 50 MME per day on workers’ compensation and general liability claims for people with chronic pain who have life expectancies of 20 to 40 years or more. Essentially, CMS is condoning the dangerous and inappropriate use of opioids.”
The campaign’s website also warns, “It is is especially dangerous to combine opioids with alcohol or sedatives, like benzodiazepines (e.g., lorazepam/Ativan, alprazolam/Xanax, diazepam/Valium).” Patureau says opioids and benzodiazepines are frequently prescribed together and allocated on WCMSAs.
“Post settlement, many Medicare beneficiaries do not reach their life expectancies,” he notes. “What is causing their deaths? No one is tracking this, but we suspect overdose is responsible for some.”
For more information on the Surgeon General’s campaign and to download educational materials, please see www.turnthetiderx.org. The Turn the Tide Rx endorsement is the latest of several NAMSAP initiatives to reduce opioid use in MSAs. The organization has conducted webinars on the topic and proposed evidence-based limits on opioids in MSAs in March.
Source: NAMSAP/King Knight