Policy Watch

Some opioid-related legislation advancing in Congress has raised hospital concerns.

March 29—Policymakers and healthcare providers will gather in Atlanta next week to identify effective approaches to an opioid crisis that appears to be worsening, according to new data.

The National Rx Heroin and Drug Abuse Summit, April 2-5, will feature discussions on the opioid epidemic by senior administration leaders, such as Francis Collins, MD, PhD, director of the National Institutes of Health, and Scott Gottlieb, MD, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The gathering follows this week’s release of datafrom the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that drug overdose deaths increased by 11.4 percent from 2014 to 2015. Of the 52,404 deaths in 2015, 33,091, or 63.1 percent, involved an opioid.

The administration has begun promoting a national strategy to combat opioid abuse, but few details have emerged.

The meeting also will include a slate of speakers from Congress, including Rep. Harold Rogers (R-Ky.), co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse. This week, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released draft legislation urging the FDA to use some of its allotted portion of a recently enacted multibillion-dollar opioid-addiction funding package to upgrade inspection tools, expand labs, and train more canine officers to detect and intercept fentanyl sent through U.S. mail facilities.

Hospital Focus

Hospitals have responded to the epidemic by trying to improve pain management to reduce addiction, overuse, and misuse.

However, hospitals have said their anti-opioid-abuse efforts have been complicated by a federal requirement—known as 42 CFR Part 2—that limits the ability of healthcare providers to see medical records that contain information on substance use.

“As a result, many providers learn of addiction problems only after an adverse event or overdose,” America’s Essential Hospitals (AEH) recently wrote in a statementto the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Part 2 regulations also might lead to a physician treating a patient and writing prescriptions for opioid pain medication for that individual without knowing that person has a substance use disorder.”

Several hospital groups are backing the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, which includes provisions to lift federal data-sharing limitations.

“If enacted, the legislation would have an immediate impact in the fight against opioid misuse, at virtually no cost to the taxpayer,” Blair Childs, senior vice president for Premier healthcare alliance, wrote in a letterto the congressional panel.

The safety-net hospitals of AEH also back the Alternatives to Opioids in the Emergency Department Act, which would allow hospitals to cut opioid prescribing by assessing the use of alternative medication options for pain management.

However, AEH warned against legislative proposals to use prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) to increase provider awareness of at-risk patients.

“[T]he challenges associated with PDMPs—including issues with health IT interoperability, timely data transmission, privacy and security—make this tool an unsatisfactory option for now,” AEH wrote.

Wednesday April 4

Submission deadline for the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) Patients’ Perspectives of Care Survey data for fourth-quarter 2017 discharges (Oct. 1–Dec. 31, 2017). Learn more.

CMS webinar: “Building Partnerships: Health Plans and Community-based Organizations.” Learn more and register.

Thursday, April 5

Webinar: “Succeeding in Value-Based Care Via a Technology-Driven Approach.” Learn more.

Advisory Board web conference on working with physician partners to provide reliable, low-cost clinical care through a sustainable, cost-efficient clinical workforce. Learn more and register.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality webinar to learn about the new self-registration pathway in the Registry of Patient Registries. Learn more and register.

Deadline for Inpatient rehabilitation facilities and long-term care hospitals to review their quality data before it is reported on the IRF Compare and LTCH Compare websites in June. See instructions on the IRFand LTCHwebsites.

Publication Date: Thursday, March 29, 2018