WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers appeared Wednesday before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health to advocate for several legislative proposals in combatting the nationwide opioid epidemic. Specifically, his testimony focused on evidence-based treatment, the use of pain as a vital sign in medical practice, dosage tapering and partial fill, and finding alternative treatments.
“Physicians and pharmacists need to be able to have conversations with their patients about pain management, develop treatment plans that are unique to the individual, and focus on the long-term health of the patient over short -erm benchmarks,” said Stivers, whose district includes all of Clinton County.
He called on Congress to provide sufficient oversight and ensure that federal funds being provided to the states for mental health and addiction treatment are being appropriately directed to treatments that are based on a foundation of evidence as to their efficacy.
Stivers also promoted extensive data collection and research on emergent therapies in order to certify innovative approaches in the future, stated a media release from his office.
Stivers also raised questions about the use of pain as a vital sign and the subsequent occurrences of over-prescribing of opioids at the expense of treating underlying symptoms. He applauded a recent announcement from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that the agency will no longer be linking “pain management” and satisfaction scores to reimbursements for doctors and hospitals as a positive step in changing the culture surrounding pain management.
Additionally, he discussed partial fill of opioid dosages amidst reports that more than 70 percent of adults who misuse prescription opioids find them in medicine cabinets of friends or relatives. He referenced language he crafted that was included in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), that allowed for the partial fill of prescriptions at the request of patients or doctors and urged the Committee to build on that legislation.
Stivers testified as one member of Congress who represents a district that’s been particularly impacted by the opioid epidemic.
“There is no single legislative fix to this epidemic,” Stivers said. “But it is essential that we explore all possible avenues when it comes to helping individuals, families, and communities that have been absolutely decimated by addiction.”