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Mooney’s opioid act gaining attention

April 25, 2016
In The News

MARTINSBURG-Republican Congressman Alex Mooney has introduced a bill known as the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) Act, and the bill has recently gained national attention from Time magazine.

Democratic Senator Joe Manchin also co-sponsored a similar piece of legislation in the U.S. Senate, so the bills will be seen in both the Senate and House chambers.

Mooney, R-W.Va., who said the bill was not his original idea, but was requested by concerned doctors when he was traveling around, said he is very pleased that the bill is garnering so much recognition and bipartisan support.

"There's a lot of skepticism about how government works these days, and this is an example of government working," Mooney said in a telephone interview. "It's really a no-brainer. It is a very clear example of something that can be done to help the problem. It's a sad problem for West Virginia, as well as every other state in the country, we're certainly not unique in this area, but it's something we need to be active with."

The bill would eliminate a provision of the Affordable Care Act, removing reimbursements from pain-management questions.

Currently, a standardized survey known as the "Hospital Consumer Survey of Healthcare Providers and Systems" developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Department of Health and Human Services is meant to measure a patient's satisfaction with the care received while at the hospital.

Although the survey was created in 2006 and surveys were used on an optional basis, "pay for performance" provisions in the Affordable Care Act stated that the surveys would be used to calculate incentive payments or payment reductions depending on survey results.

Mooney said doctors came to him with concerns about provisions.

"Some of the doctors mentioned that they don't appreciate the questionnaire on giving pain medicine," Mooney said. "Reimbursements are held if patients have complaints. Although this bill doesn't repeal Obamacare, (neither Republicans or Democrats) want Obamacare to add to the problem of drug addiction in our country."

According to the survey, there are three questions concerning pain and medication. The first asks, "During this hospital stay, did you need medicine for pain?" The second reads, "During this hospital stay, how often was your pain well controlled?" The third asks, "During this hospital stay, how often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?"

Mooney said some doctors disliked those questions because they could feel pressured to prescribe and administer pain medication just because the results of the survey would lead to an incentive payment or a reduction in payment. Mooney added that drug addictions often begin with pain medication.

The PROP Act would not entirely eliminate the usage of the survey. However, it would remove ties between survey results and payment.

Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito signed onto a similar bill Manchin helped introduce in the U.S. Senate, and the bill has received an endorsement from the American Medical Association.

"I encourage my constituents to contact me if they have an idea," Mooney said. "I hear a lot about the negative effects of drug addiction, and I'm aware of the problems, but what I need are specific ideas."

A story about the patient survey and the PROP Act appeared in Time magazine on April 13.

To read the story, visit ti.me/1T4dLZr.

Staff writer Emily Daniels can be reached at 304-263-8931, ext. 132, or twitter.com/emilykdaniels.