Despite opposition from groups like the U.S. Pain Foundation, beginning in January 2018, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will change the pain management questions on patient hospital satisfaction surveys from how well staff did controlling patients’ pain to how often they “talked” to patients about their pain. The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems, known as the HCAHPS survey, is a high-profile, publicly reported measure that allows consumers to compare the quality of care between different hospitals. Survey results are also used to determine a portion of hospital reimbursement rates.
Recently, U.S. Pain has seen a number of bills that propose placing a tax on opioids in order to fund efforts to combat opioid abuse. To date, bills have been introduced in numerous states (MN, IA, MA, CA, KY, MT, PA, and NY) and in Congress. But the bills would primarily place a financial burden on legitimate patients. At the very least, chronic pain advocates argue the funds should also be used to address the pain epidemic, not just substance use disorder.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has proposed concerning changes to key pain management questions on an influential survey, called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Survey, which is used to rate patient satisfaction with their inpatient hospital stay. The survey is important because results are publicly reported on Medicare’s Hospital Compare website and a hospital’s score can affect its CMS payments. CMS has invited the public to comment on the proposal by June 13, and U.S. Pain is asking its members to speak out against the changes.
U.S. Pain volunteers mobilized quickly this month to respond to two problematic proposals at the national level: one from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding opioids and another from the Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) concerning health insurance on state exchanges.
In both instances, volunteers were asked to submit a template letter to the organizations, which were accepting public comment. The campaign to respond to the HHS proposal saw 60 advocates take action, while an astounding 683 individuals stepped up to address the CMS proposal.
Many patients with chronic pain are concerned about the unintended consequences of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) newly published proposal to curb opioid misuse and abuse, “Opioid Misuse Strategy 2016.” U.S. Pain urges the pain community to email CMS by Friday, March 3, to ask them to reconsider several proposed changes that could harm people living with chronic pain.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense (DoD) recently released new opioid prescribing guidelines for chronic pain that are more stringent than those released last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Most of the recommendations are widely supported practices for reducing opioid misuse and abuse, such as reducing the concurrent use of benzodiazepines and opioids, employing risk mitigation strategies and avoiding prescribing of extended release/long-acting opioids for acute pain. Other recommendations are highly concerning and may unintentionally and unnecessarily harm veterans, says Cindy Steinberg, U.S. Pain’s national director of policy advocacy. Supporting veterans and military service members with chronic pain is one of U.S. Pain Foundation’s key national policy priorities.
On Jan. 5, the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) published a new, 30-page proposal for curbing opioid abuse: “Opioid Misuse Strategy 2016.” Among the more controversial suggestions are incentivizing pharmacists to report clinicians who appear to be overprescribing opioids and encouraging patients and providers to report on pharmacists who may be dispensing inappropriately.
CMS did not say when it planned to implement the strategy or if public hearings would be held.