Following Community Meetings, Tipton Takes Further Action to Fight Opioid Abuse
Following five community roundtable meetings on the opioid abuse epidemic, Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) has supported and cosponsored numerous pieces of legislation to address specific challenges raised by local healthcare providers, law enforcement officers, and community members, including three more bills this week.
“We are holding these roundtable discussions on opioid abuse to gather local feedback, bring it to Washington, and take the steps needed at the federal level to make real progress in our fight against this epidemic,” Tipton said. “During our first round of meetings, we heard about the challenges our communities face when it comes to educating patients about the dangers of opioids, the availability of treatment programs, and responsible prescribing practices. We were able to bring this information to DC and support bills that address each of these issues.”
Tipton has cosponsored the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) Act of 2016 (H.R. 4499), the Recovery Enhancement for Addiction Treatment (TREAT) Act (H.R. 2536), and Carl’s Law (H.R. 5601).
At the roundtable in Pueblo, Tipton heard from a local pharmacologist that a federal assessment made it challenging for physicians in hospitals to prescribe non-opioid pain medications. The assessment, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS), requires hospital patients to rate aspects of the care they receive at the hospital, including pain management. Scores on the CAHPS have a direct impact on the reimbursements hospitals receive from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). H.R. 4499 removes the pain management questions on the CHAPS from the hospital payment scoring calculations to ensure there is no perceived financial pressure to overprescribe opioid painkillers.
In response to feedback Tipton received at each of his roundtable meetings on the limited availability of medication assisted treatment (MAT) programs, Tipton has cosponsored H.R. 2536 to increase the number of patients a MAT prescriber can treat at one time. Under the current law, physicians who participate in MAT programs can only prescribe medications like buprenorphine, which blocks opioid receptors in the brain, to 30 patients at one time. H.R. 2536 increases this number to 100.
Tipton has also cosponsored H.R. 5601 to require any prescription drug containing an opioid to have a label that clearly states that the drug contains an opioid and could be addictive. Community members at Tipton’s roundtable meetings have shared their concerns about the lack of information that is shared with young athletes who receive prescriptions for painkillers following an injury.
“Eliminating opioid abuse in our communities won’t happen overnight, but the feedback we’ve received from our communities gives us clear steps that we can take to get on the right path. I appreciate the effort everyone is putting forth to bring an end to this devastating epidemic.” Tipton added.