Attorneys General Encourage Insurers to Incentivize Non-Opioid Treatments for Pain

On September 25, 2017, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia announced an effort by a coalition of 37 attorneys general from different states to reduce the supply of opioids in the USA by impacting how often the drugs are prescribed.

The group composed and signed a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans, which was sent via the National Association of Attorneys General, and will go to other groups. It urges insurers to look at their payment and coverage policies regarding the drugs, and to revise them where possible. The hope is to encourage insurers to incentivize “…healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options over opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain,” according to a story in the Register-Herald of Beckley, West Virginia, by Andrea Lannom.

The attorneys general assert that incentives promoting use of non-opioid techniques will increase practicality of medical providers considering treatments including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care and non-opioid medications.

Lannom reported that Cathryn Donaldson, director of communications and public affairs with America’s Health Insurance Plans, responded to the letter with a statement. It said that the plans agree with the attorneys general that opioid abuse and addiction is a public health crisis in the USA and must be solved with cooperation of patients, plans, doctors, nurses, and government leaders so they can put people on better paths to healing.

Donaldson explained the role of insurers. “Health plans work closely with doctors and nurses on the safest, most proven, and most effective approaches to manage pain. Many health plans have instituted new programs that are helping to dramatically reduce how much — and how often — opioids are prescribed.”

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear joined Morrisey at a news conference to announce the initiative. He said attorneys general want to join others to find a solution to the opioid epidemic and related a dramatic event that showed him just how bad the epidemic is. To view the news conference go to: https://livestream.com/accounts/22787272/events/7725099/videos/162976258

To read the Register-Herald story, go to: https://www.register-herald.com/news/coalition-of-attorneys-general-sends-letter-to-health-insurance-companies/article_ca7b4d3e-76d7-5cf8-adee-d558a3dbf485.html