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Pill bill introduced by Mooney

Pill bill introduced by Mooney

Some times a "tiny tweak" can go a long way toward solving a big problem, according to Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va.

On Tuesday, Mooney introduced the Promoting Responsible Opioid Prescribing Act into the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would eliminate tying Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to patient questionnaires regarding pain management.

"It's not a sweeping, systemic change, but it helps address an unintended consequence of Obamacare," Mooney said. "I'm not saying Obamacare created drug addiction, it's just come to my understanding that by relating reimbursements to a hospitals' performance with pain management, doctors become reluctant to deny opioids to a patient."

Mooney said he decided to introduce the legislation after speaking with doctors in Charleston. He said the doctors said "if they didn't prescribe painkillers" then their reimbursements could be jeopardized based on the patients' survey.

"We're not going to eliminate those questions, because it's still something we want to know," he said. "We're just not going to tie it to reimbursements."

The bill is bipartisan, backed by Annie Kuster, D-N.H., Hal Rogers, R-Ky., Stephen Lynch, D-Ma., Frank Guinta, R-N.H., Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, and Barbara Comstock, R-Va. Mooney said while Washington, D.C., is known for partisan bickering, drug addiction is "truly a bipartisan issue."

"We really put our differences aside in trying to deal with this problem," he said. "The main thing we all hope for is to help get people off of drugs. By reducing the amount of opioids prescribed, that in turn reduces the amount of people who may turn to heroin."

Mooney said he anticipates the bill will pass without much debate.

"Bills like this go through all the time unanimously," he said. "They're not the sort of bills that make the front page of the paper, but they can be substantive and can go towards fixing big problems."

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