WASHINGTON, D.C. Last week, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Terri Sewell (AL-07) along with Reps. David McKinley (WV-01), and Ann Kuster (NH-02) introduced H.R. 3259, the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act. This legislation would help break down barriers to non-opioid pain management for those enrolled in Medicare, thereby helping stem the country’s opioid epidemic. 

Specifically, the bill would address payment disincentives for practitioners to prescribe non-opioid treatment alternatives in surgical settings by requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to place non-opioid treatments on par with other separately paid drugs and devices in Medicare Part B.

“The substance and opioid use disorder crises have affected countless families and communities across the United States,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “I am proud to cosponsor the bipartisan NOPAIN Act, which would limit unnecessary exposure to opioids by ensuring access to non-addictive therapy alternatives for Americans who have undergone outpatient surgical procedures. Now, more than ever, Americans should have access to medical treatment without fear of developing a substance use disorder as a result.”

“I am pleased to help introduce this bipartisan legislation which will expand access to non-opioid pain management alternatives for patients,” said Rep. Kuster. “The NOPAIN Act marks a critical step in our national efforts to curb the opioid epidemic and ensure that patients have viable non-opioid alternatives that present a lower risk of addiction and misuse. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle in advancing this bipartisan legislation.” 

“The opioid epidemic has devastated families and communities across this Nation, and it is incumbent upon all of us in Congress to make addressing this crisis a priority,” said Rep. Sewell. “Fortunately, many non-opioid treatments and therapies exist that can successfully replace, delay, or reduce the use of opioids in treating post-surgical pain and lessen the risk of addiction. The NOPAIN Act would make critical changes to the way Medicare classifies non-addictive opioid alternatives and would empower doctors to prescribe treatments that are best-suited for their patients’ needs. I am proud to introduce this critical legislation to prevent the continued needless loss of life.”

“While most of the attention has been paid to the Covid pandemic in the last year, our nation’s substance abuse epidemic has grown event worse. Yet, our healthcare system still unnecessarily encourages the use of opioids," said Rep. McKinley. "Our bill would ensure that non-opioid drugs and devices to treat and manage pain are not put at a disadvantage. While pain management for all patients should be handled between a patient and doctor, opioids should not be the first or only option given.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids are the main driver of drug overdose deaths in the United States, accounting for 70,630 deaths in 2019 which comprise 70% of the total drug overdoses that year. Additionally, the CDC estimates that the economic costs associated with prescription opioid misuse exceed $78.5 billion annually. These costs include those associated with health care, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and the judicial system.

Research shows that patients receiving an opioid prescription after short-stay surgeries have a 44% increased risk of opioid use. One 2018 study showed that 12 percent of patients who had a soft tissue or orthopedic operation in the year prior reported that they had become addicted to or dependent on opioids.

“The United States continues to battle a wide-ranging drug overdose epidemic fueled by illicitly manufactured fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin. Deaths related to prescription opioids also remain too high,” said Susan R. Bailey, M.D., President of the American Medical Association. "To counter this grim reality, the AMA supports a comprehensive approach to help patients with pain, including removing barriers to non-opioid alternatives. The AMA applauds Reps. Sewell, McKinley, Kuster, and Fitzpatrick for introducing the NOPAIN Act. Providing separate payments for non-opioid alternatives is a vital part of the overarching strategy of offering patients options for coping with pain while simultaneously aiding the fight against the epidemic of drug overdose and death.”

The NOPAIN Act is also supported by the following organizations:

•           A Voice in the Wilderness Empowerment Center

•           A.C.T Drug Free Community Coalition

•           Acupuncturists Without Borders

•           Adult & Teen Challenge

•           AdvaMed

•           Ambulatory Surgery Center Association

•           American Association of Colleges of Nursing

•           American Association of Nurse Anesthetists

•           American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

•           American College of Surgeons

•           American Massage Therapy Association

•           American Psychological Association

•           American Society of Anesthesiologists

•           Arizona Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors

•           Arizona Nurses Association

•           Arizona Public Health Association

•           Attack Addiction Foundation in Delaware

•           Aurora Sober Living

•           BIO

•           Coalition Rx

•           Colorado Coalition for the Homeless

•           Community Anti-Drug Coalition

•           Cover2 Resources

•           Crossroads

•           Delaware County Community Partnership

•           Drug Free America Foundation

•           Herren Project in Rhode Island

•           Indiana Rural Health Association

•           Medical Alley Association

•           Medical Device Manufacturers Association

•           Mental Health Association of Delaware

•           Michigan Association of Nurse Anesthetists

•           National Alliance for Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions

•           National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine

•           National Rural Health Association

•           National Safety Council

•           National Transitions of Care Coalition

•           Nebraska Association of Behavioral Health Organizations

•           Oklahoma CART Association

•           Outpatient Ophthalmic Surgery Society

•           Overdose Lifeline

•           Partnership for Healthy Iowa

•           Partnership to End Addiction

•           Pennsylvania Nurse Anesthetists

•           Pennsylvania Nurse Practitioners

•           Physical Medicine Management Alliance

•           PYDONEFAMILY

•           Reckless Saints of Nowhere

•           RetireSafe

•           Save Our Society From Drugs

•           SeekHealing

•           Serenity Properties

•           Second Chance Center, Inc

•           Shatterproof

•           Society for Opioid Free Anesthesia

•           The Kennedy Forum

•           The Substance Use and Mental Health Leadership Council

•           Students for Opioid Solutions

•           Will Bright Foundation

The NOPAIN Act is available here.