One of the biggest healthcare crises to take over mainstream media is the current opioid epidemic. From hit shows such as Painkiller or Dopesick to movies such as August Osage County, viewers feel connected to the topic as they have experienced the epidemic for themselves or through someone else.
As statistics rise for individuals abusing prescription pills, on December 28, 2022, both parties put aside their differences and voted to pass the No Pain Act. Initially introduced by Senator Shelley Moore Capito, this law addresses barriers to non-opioid pain management. Now anyone enrolled in Medicare has other insurance-covered options when it comes to pain control.
The goal of the law is simple: prevent addiction before it starts. It also gives patients more control over their healthcare choices allowing for various options for pain relief.
The Landscape of the Opioid Epidemic
Opioids are typically prescribed for post-surgical pain management 90% of Americans undergoing surgery are given an opioid prescription to manage pain. The average post-surgical patient is prescribed 80 pain pills, and typically a patient only will use part of their prescribed amount.
But, if patients aren’t using the entire prescription, where does the problem lie? Drug-related deaths have skyrocketed since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020, more than 48,000 people died due to overdosing on synthetic opioids. Experts believe that opioid usage is also the gateway to stronger, deadlier drugs. And for someone struggling with addiction, this type of prescription after surgery raises several concerns.
How the No Pain Act Affects Patients and Doctors
This is where the No Pain Act is helpful for patients. This law provides reimbursements for other forms of pain management. The law includes some drugs, biologics, or medical devices that can replace opioid consumption. As long as the treatment is currently in a clinical trial or has had a peer-review article published about how it aids pain, it should be eligible for Medicare reimbursement. However, it does not go into effect until 2024.
While there are plenty of problems associated with opioids, some physicians find this is the best way for their patients to treat acute pain. The important thing to note is that the No Pain Act doesn’t take any rights away from doctors or add restrictions to anything. Instead, it provides insurance coverage for pain management alternatives, which allows the patient to have options when it comes to pain management.
Examples of Alternative Pain Treatment
There are various ways that patients can treat acute pain without utilizing opioid prescriptions.
Over-the-counter pain relief:
- Physical therapy
- Cold therapy
- Compression therapy
High-tech pain control methods:
- Pain pumps
- Nerve blocks
Surgery Center Adapt to No Pain Act
For outpatient surgery centers, keeping costs down and decreasing chances for readmission rates are top priorities. And reducing the type of pain management medications that your facility is prescribing can seem overwhelming. However, multimodal pain pumps are an effective way to manage pain without prescribing opioids. This approach stays ahead of pain, instead of treating acute pain when the patient feels it the most. Also, these devices can be removed at home by the patient.