WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) announced that the Oversight Subcommittee will hold a hearing entitled “The Opioid Crisis: The Current Landscape and CMS Actions to Prevent Opioid Misuse” on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 10:00 AM in room 1100 of the Longworth House Office Building. The hearing will focus on efforts by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to utilize data to identify individuals in the Medicare Part D program who are at risk to abuse opioids. The hearing will also examine the agency’s tools to support those efforts and any areas in need of improvement.
Upon announcing the hearing, Chairman Brady said:
“The opioid crisis in this country is devastating entire communities. While many Medicare patients need certain opioid medication as part of their treatment, there are a growing number of reports of opioid abuse within the Medicare program. As one of the biggest payers of prescription drugs, CMS has a responsibility to ensure that prescription drugs are not abused, particularly those that are highly addictive such as opioids. During this hearing, Members will learn from experts about Medicare and opioids and whether CMS facilitates opioid use that may not be medically necessary and could be harming the very community Medicare is intended to help.”
Opioid abuse and misuse is a significant national problem that has grown substantially over the past couple of years. In 2015, opioid-related deaths exceeded 33,000 people with more than 60 percent of drug overdose deaths attributed to opioids. This is also a problem within the Medicare program, where more than one-third of Medicare’s 44 million beneficiaries are prescribed an opioid at some point during the year. In 2016, the Medicare program spent $4.1 billion on opioids, an increase of 165 percent from 2006. Furthermore, the HHS OIG found more than 500,000 beneficiaries who received high amounts of opioids in 2016. As one of the nation’s largest payers of prescription drugs, CMS can play an important role in identifying and preventing opioid abuse.
Note: Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS), who will chair this hearing, will serve as the Chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee for the remainder of the 115th Congress.