On Wednesday, February 24, two ASA members testified at the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing on “Opioid Use Among Seniors – Issues and Emerging Trends.” ASA Members Dr. Jerome Adams, Indiana Health Commissioner, and Dr. Sean Mackey, Chief of the Division of Pain Medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, were among the 5 witnesses at the hearing.
During the hearing, Dr. Adams discussed the interaction between pain medicine and the opioid epidemic, saying “We must be proactive and continue to take steps to change our prescribing rules, get naloxone in the hands of those who need it and examine the concept of pain as the 5th vital sign and the use of pain management to determine patient satisfaction scores, and subsequently provider reimbursements, if we are to stop this opioid epidemic and protect our nation’s most vulnerable citizens."
Dr. Mackey testified on the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine report, Relieving Pain in America, and the objectives of the draft National Pain Strategy, “which serve the goal of creating a comprehensive, population-level strategy for pain prevention, management and research.” Dr. Mackey explained that “The scope of the problems in pain management is daunting, and the limitations in the knowledge and education of health care professional are glaring...Importantly the cultural and social transformation needed to alleviate pain in America will require the collaboration of the healthcare provider community with patients and their families who are suffering from pain, including their communities, professional societies and advocacy organizations as well as state and federal government.”
While both Dr. Adams and Dr. Mackey are active members of ASA, their testimony to the Special Committee was on behalf of their individual experiences and work, rather than ASA.
Other witnesses at the hearing included Sean Cavanaugh, Deputy Administrator and Director of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS); Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General at the Office of Inspector General in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS); and Dr. Steven Diaz, Chief Medical Officer and Emergency Medicine Physician at MaineGeneral.
In May 2015, Dr. Adams also testified at the House Energy and Commerce Committee during a hearing discussing actions being taken by state governments to combat the opioid abuse epidemic.
You can find more information about the Senate Committee on Aging hearing here: http://www.aging.senate.gov/hearings/opioid-use-among-seniors_issues-and-emerging-trends