CMS Releases Roadmap to Combat the Opioid Crisis

June 15, 2018
Policy Snapshot

Although some progress has been made in efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate the crisis is not slowing down. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a roadmap outlining efforts to address this issue of national concern. In this roadmap, they detail their three-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic, focusing on:

  • Prevention of new cases of opioid use disorder (OUD)
  • Treatment of patients who have already become dependent on or addicted to opioids
  • Utilization of data from across the country to target prevention and treatment activities

Current estimates show that over two million people suffer from opioid use disorder, with a prevalence in Medicare of 6 out of every 1,000 beneficiaries. In order to decrease that number, it is crucial that Medicare beneficiaries and providers are aware that there are options available for both prevention of developing new cases of OUD and the treatment of existing cases.

CMS is working to ensure that beneficiaries are not inadvertently put at risk of misuse by closely monitoring prescription opioid trends, strengthening controls at the time of opioid prescriptions, and encouraging health care providers to promote a range of safe and effective pain treatments, including alternatives to opioids. We are also working on communications with beneficiaries to explain the risks of prescription opioids and how to safely dispose of them, so they are not misused by others.

This roadmap is only a start, and as CMS begins to implement many of its plans and programs, it will continue to evolve. See the full text of this excerpted CMS blog (issued June 11).

The Society is taking important steps to help combat the crisis while working hard to ensure that PALTC patients and residents do not suffer as an unintended consequence of these actions. The Society is working on a comprehensive statement on pain management that will address appropriate and safe opioid prescribing. In addition, the Society has prioritized an update for Pain Management Clinical Practice Guidelines as its top priority.