October 05, 2018
Senate Passes ASA Legislation to Reduce Opioid Use
Earlier this week, the Senate voted to approve H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, legislation to address the opioid crisis, including provisions conceptualized and advanced by the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) that advance opioid reducing initiatives in the surgical setting. This Senate vote follows last week’s passage by the U.S. House of Representatives, and President Donald Trump is soon expected to sign it into law.
Included in H.R. 6 are provisions from H.R. 5718, the Perioperative Reduction of Opioids (PRO) Act, which establishes a Technical Expert Panel to identify and promote best practices to reduce opioids in the surgical setting with the involvement of medical and surgical specialty societies and hospital organizations. ASA has been a strong supporter of the PRO Act and advocated for its inclusion during the LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE 2018 in May.
Physician anesthesiologists are experts in pain management and are uniquely suited to prevent opioid abuse and misuse by employing opioid-sparing techniques in the surgical setting. ASA is committed to practices that minimize patients’ exposure to opioids, while ensuring patients have access to appropriate pain treatments. ASA applauds Congress for supporting mechanisms that promote these efforts. The provisions supported by ASA in H.R. 6 not only include the PRO Act, but also include a grant program to promote best practices around alternatives to opioids and technical assistance for hospitals, emergency departments and other acute care settings; a study on the impact of state and federal prescribing limits; and grants to increase drug take-back and disposal programs.
Educating lawmakers about the role physician anesthesiologists play in surgery to reduce opioids was key to the inclusion of grant programs to promote best practices around alternatives to opioids in the surgical setting. ASA has long advocated for increased drug take-back and disposal programs and included this policy in previous “Hill Day asks.” ASA is also pleased its engagement with policymakers yielded a study, rather than statutory federal prescribing limits.