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Mooney opioid act tweaked in Senate

March 2, 2016
In The News

A Republican senator introduced an amendment Monday to the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act based on the bill Rep. Alex Mooney, R-West Virginia, introduced last month into the U.S. House of Representatives.

Last month, Mooney introduced the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing Act that would eliminate the link between Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to patient surveys regarding pain management. The "tiny tweak" to the Affordable Care Act would prevent overprescribing of opioids to patients, Mooney said last month.

"Prescription drug abuse is wreaking havoc on families and communities in West Virginia and across the country. We have to fight back against this drug epidemic before it tears more lives apart," Mooney said last month. "The Promoting Responsible Opioid Act changes current law to help end the unnecessary overuse of prescription painkillers. In doing so, this bill empowers doctors, not the federal government, to choose what is right for patients."

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, introduced the amendment Monday to the 2014 opioid act, which authorizes the U.S. Attorney General to make a variety of grants available for state, local and tribal governments, as well as non-profits, to fight opioid and heroin addiction.

In a press release, Johnson said the amendment to eliminate patient survey results in the calculation Medicare reimbursements is based on Mooney's bipartisan house bill, which is endorsed by the American Medical Association.

"It is important to be mindful of unintended consequences of well-intentioned actions. The government may mean well by linking payments of patient satisfaction, but there is a real concern the specific questions about pain management place inappropriate pressure on doctors," Johnson said. "Physicians must be free to exercise their best judgment when prescribing the proper level of pain medication."

The two bills' language are exactly the same, which could help avoid a conference committee between the two chambers if the legislation passes.

Staff writer Henry Culvyhouse can be contacted at 304-263-8931, ext.215. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/HCulvyhouseJN.