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Brady Statement on HHS, CMS Proposals to Combat Opioid Crisis

July 27, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a regulatory proposal which includes policies to combat the opioid crisis.

“I commend HHS and CMS for joining Congress’s efforts to help our communities overcome the opioid crisis with these two important proposals.

“Pursuing greater access to non-opioid pain management alternatives, a policy championed by Committee Members Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Kenny Marchant (R-TX), would help prevent unnecessary opioid use and potential addiction while limiting current incentives in Medicare to prescribe opioids as a primary option. Building on the work of Committee Members Diane Black (R-TN) and Erik Paulsen (R-MN), another proposal from CMS — to eliminate questions regarding pain levels from the hospital patient experience survey and prodding prescribers to focus on the risks of opioids and the availability of opioid alternatives — would decrease the over-prescription of these devastating drugs. 

“We know this is not the last step in this fight, but Congress and the Administration are committed to working together to help our communities defeat this crisis.”

Background on Prior Congressional Action on These Policies

On limiting financial incentives to prescribe opioids over non-opioid alternatives:

Section 2 of H.R. 6110, the Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act of 2018, requires the Secretary of HHS to review payments made through the Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and payments to ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) to ensure there are no financial incentives to use opioids instead of evidence-based non-opioid alternatives.  If the Secretary identifies financial incentives to use opioids instead of evidence-based non-opioid alternatives, the Secretary would make such revisions to OPPS and ASC payments through rulemaking.  H.R. 6110 was unanimously approved by the House on June 19, 2018.

On eliminating questions regarding pain levels from hospital surveys and ensuring patients are aware of the risks of opioids and the availability of non-opioid alternatives:

Section 4 of H.R. 5775, the Providing Reliable Options for Patients and Educational Resources (PROPER) Act of 2018, prohibits, starting in 2019, the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey from including pain questions, unless such questions take into account whether an individual experiencing pain was informed about the risks associated with the use of opioids and about non-opioid alternatives for the treatment of pain. Additionally, the Secretary is prohibited from including on the Hospital Compare internet website and the Hospital Value-Based Purchasing Program any measures based on the pain questions appearing on the HCAHPS survey for 2018.  H.R. 5775 was unanimously approved by the House on June 19, 2018.