Substance use disorders and the harms associated with these diseases are a serious, growing public health problem in the United States. Nearly 33,000 Americans died from an opioid overdose in 2015, and more than 15,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids. In total, this translates to 91 lives lost each day from a prescription or illicit opioid overdose.
Yet these deaths do not reflect the full public health impact of substance use disorders. Individuals who misuse drugs or alcohol are more likely to develop chronic health conditions, experience poorer health outcomes, and have contact with the criminal justice system. The costs are high: The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that illicit drug and alcohol abuse accounts for more than $400 billion annually related to health care, lost work productivity, and crime.
More than 20 million Americans have a substance use disorder. However, in 2015, only about 10 percent of these individuals received any kind of treatment—whether through self-help programs, inpatient and outpatient treatment centers, or doctors’ offices. Effective care, including access to programs that provide medication-assisted treatment, remains elusive for many patients.
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On Feb. 16, The Pew Charitable Trusts submitted comments on ways to address the opioid crisis to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, in response to calls for feedback from Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch and Ranking Member Ron Wyden. Pew’s comments recommend that legislators consider three issues when exploring ways to improve access to high-quality treatment in Medicare and Medicaid,... Read More
Prescriber use mandates are state laws that require health care providers to check the prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP)—a state-based electronic database intended to help reduce misuse and diversion of controlled substances—under specific circumstances. Read More
In November, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule intended to protect Medicare beneficiaries who are at risk from opioid misuse. The rule sets expectations for insurers developing drug management programs known as patient review and restriction (PRR) programs, which are used to identify at-risk patients and assign them to designated prescribers and/or... Read More