September 04, 2019
ASA Urges HHS to Act to Assure Patients Access to Safe Pain Care
On August 26, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) sent a formal communication to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) urging the Administration to address burdensome administrative processes, such as prior authorization and claims approvals, that hinder access to safe pain care. The recommendation was included among a range of other recommendations provided to HHS in response to an Office of the Assistance Secretary for Planning and Evaluation Request for Information (RFI). The RFI sought comments on legitimate access to controlled substances, including opioids, while also seeking information on preventing diversion and abuse. The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016 (EPAEDEA) called for a report to Congress from HHS and requires the agency to include feedback from stakeholders.
ASA believes the EPAEDEA is an important step in combatting the opioid crisis and was pleased to provide feedback on the RFI to contribute to the report to Congress.
In formal comments, ASA provided recommendations and feedback on how to overcome obstacles to legitimate patient access to controlled substances, methods to prevent diversion and abuse of opioid medications, as well as suggestions on how to improve education across health care professions in both pain management and substance abuse prevention and treatment. ASA encouraged HHS to examine the benefits and limitations of a national prescription drug monitoring program, which may be an effective tool in curbing inappropriate prescribing and helping address the opioid epidemic.
ASA appreciates the opportunity to illustrate the crucial role physician anesthesiologists play in both ensuring responsible opioid prescribing and helping prevent inappropriate use and abuse of opioids.
The Society looks forward to continuing working with HHS to combat the opioid epidemic.