Pain Care Legislation & Policy Update

On June 17, 2020, Michael Barnes, JD presented alongside Wade Delk, Government Affairs Director of the American Society for Pain Management Nursing (ASPMN), for the Providers Clinical Support System (PCSS) 2020 Pain Care Legislation and Public Policy Webinar. Mr. Barnes and Mr. Delk provided an update on state and federal legislative and regulatory actions and proposals that may affect people with pain or opioid use disorder.

Topics included:

– The Pain Management Best Practices Interagency Task Force recommendation implementation plan and the April 2020 request from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for comments on pain management options;

– The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General Toolkit for Calculating Opioid Levels and Identifying Patients at Risk of Misuse or Overdose, released in May 2020;

– CDC conclusions that, from 2017 to 2018, prescription opioid-involved death rates decreased by 13.5 percent, yet synthetic opioid-related death rates (involving illicit fentanyl, for example) increased by 10 percent;

– Federal cannabis and cannabidiol (CBD) policy and enforcement activity; and

– Research into new pain medications.

The PCSS webinar also covered issues associated with the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE), including the need for practitioner and public awareness around COVID-19 serology testing reliability; the mental health impacts of COVID-19 on health care providers, first responders, and the public at large; and reports of changes in illicit substance supplies, drug abuse trends, and treatment initiation rates.

Mr. Barnes and Mr. Delk discussed numerous ways the federal government has provided regulatory flexibility during the PHE, such as:

– Allowing the prescribing of opioid pain medications after evaluating patients via non-public-facing audiovisual chat app, such as FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, or Skype;

– Permitting the prescribing of buprenorphine for opioid use disorder after evaluating patients over the telephone; and

– Increasing controlled substance supply quotas in response to medication shortages.

Mr. Barnes explained that some health care leaders are urging the federal government to make these COVID-19 regulatory flexibility measures permanent and to further deregulate the treatment of opioid use disorder by eliminating the federal X-waiver requirement.

The hour-long webinar concluded with a 10-minute question-and-answer session.

Find the replay of the webinar on the PCSS website.