The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) applauds the Senate for the passage of the Opioid Crisis Response Act (“OCRA”), a bill that includes several bipartisan provisions supported by ASA that will help address the nation’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic. In particular, ASA commends the Senate for the inclusion of the provision that would provide technical assistance and grants to hospitals and other acute care settings on alternatives to opioids for pain management. This will support the development of best practices on the use of alternatives to opioids; technologies or techniques to identify patients at risk for opioid use disorder; disseminating information on the use of alternatives to opioids; and collecting data and reporting on health outcomes associated with the use of alternatives to opioids. ASA was pleased to coordinate with policymakers on this concept.
“As a leader in patient safety and pain medicine, ASA is pleased that the Senate took action on these crucial provisions so physicians can be best equipped with ways to help reduce the reliance on opioids in the surgical setting, where some patients are first introduced to opioids,” said ASA President James D. Grant, M.D., M.B.A., FASA. “We applaud the Senate for their bipartisan solutions that put patient safety first, and encourage Congressional leaders to ensure this bill continues to advance quickly as the opioid epidemic is a top public safety concern. Physician anesthesiologists are already engaging in these best practices and stand ready to partner with Congress and others in the medical community to help reduce opioid misuse and abuse, while continuing to ensure adequate access to medicine.”
This technical assistance and grant program can build upon current models in use by physician anesthesiologists that offer promise for the reduction of opioid use. ASA currently participates in a pilot program with 30 hospitals from Premier, Inc. geared toward hospitals and health systems to decrease opioid use in the post-surgical setting for patients undergoing common surgeries. Additionally, ASA currently is executing a third-generation learning collaborative to develop, pilot and evaluate the Perioperative Surgical Home (PSH) model – a patient-centric, team-based system of coordinated surgical care that guides patients through the entire experience, from the decision to undergo surgery to discharge and beyond. The PSH can reduce a patients’ risk of post- surgical pain, which can translate into reduced need for opioids following surgery.
Other ASA-supported proposals included in OCRA encompass provisions to speed National Institutes of Health (NIH) research, support for Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), a study on efficacy of prescribing limits – in lieu of arbitrary prescribing limits in law – and grants for drug take-back programs.
This bill closely mirrored H.R. 6, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, passed in the House last month and Congressional leadership will now decide how to reconcile the two bills – through a conference committee or by returning the Senate-passed legislation to the House for a vote.