$1.1 Trillion Budget to Impact People in Pain, Medical Marijuana, Veterans and Medical Device Innovation

$1.1 Trillion Budget to Impact People in Pain, Medical Marijuana, Veterans and Medical Device Innovation

When President Obama signed a huge tax and spending law to keep the government running and avoid a year-end budget showdown, there were a few things tucked into the $1.1 trillion law that directly impact people in chronic pain – namely medical marijuana, veterans who need opioids, and tax breaks for medical device manufacturers.

DOJ to Back-Off on Medical Marijuana Criminal Action

The bill blocks the Department of Justice from taking criminal action against individuals and organizations that are licensed in states that have passed medical marijuana laws.

“The federal government will finally respect the decisions made by the majority of states that passed medical marijuana laws,” said Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) to The Huffington Post.  “This is great day for common sense because now our federal dollars will be spent more wisely on prosecuting criminals and not sick patients.”

Veterans in Need of Opioids for Pain Management

The bill directs the Veterans Administration to adopt the highly controversial opioid prescribing guidelines drafted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“To address mounting concerns about prescription drug abuse and an overdose epidemic among veterans, the bill directs the VA to adopt the opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the Centers of Disease Control, to develop IT systems to track and monitor opioid prescriptions, to ensure all VA medical facilities are equipped with opioid receptor antagonists to treat drug overdoses, and to provide additional training to medical personnel who prescribe controlled substances,” outlined Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) in a press release.

With the growing controversy around CDC’s prescribing guidelines, concerns mount from advocacy groups that Veterans will have increased challenges obtaining the pain medication they need.

Read more about the controversy here.

Medical Device Tax Breaks May Increase Technology Development

The bill created a two-year suspension of Obamacare’s medical device tax, which manufacturers had long argued dampened research and development efforts. The suspension will pump $3.9 billion into the industry over two years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

“We are grateful that Congress was able to come together to preserve U.S. jobs and medical innovation by delaying the device tax for two years,” said Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) Board Chairman Nelson Mendes, president and CEO of Ziehm Imaging Inc. in a press release. “The bipartisan cooperation we’ve seen gives us hope that policymakers will continue their work to fully address the device tax for employees, patients and advocates across the country who have been impacted by its harmful effects.”

The bill also included a permanent R&D tax credit for medical device and pharmaceutical manufacturers. The tax credits allow start-up companies and other small businesses to use part of their R&D tax credit to reduce their payroll taxes.

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Authored by: Staff

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Candice H at 10:22 am

    I’m amiss as to why my pain medications must come from a management facility with an anesthesiologist at the helm. Their way to get money is injections, injections, injections. If a patient cannot have anymore cortisone due to ramifications then that same doc will administer a small amount so as to spread them out and still make money. A 15 min injection procedure done with a CRNA was $3400 just for the nurses billing. By me refusing any more injections I have made my worth obsolete and was given the boot. When doctors can prescribe so many opioids in a controlled situation why give them to someone who won’t increase income through injections, rhizotomies and epidurals.
    It’s apparent that a family physician would have my best interest at heart not paying homage to the almighty buck.
    No pain facility is going to give a flip about prescribing Marijuana for pain relief just like they see opioid prescribing as a low income factor for their clinics.

  2. lonnie van cleaf at 6:27 am

    people are dying from Heroin
    many say they tried opioids pain pills 1st. thats the big lie. Alcohol came 1st, then pot then they put anything in their mouths to got hogh. then they found heroin and cocaine. some the choice of drug was cocaine or heroin. crackheads and jumkies. pain pills didnt cause this. YES THERE WERE PILL MILLS AND BAD DOCTORS AND OPIOID DRUGS CAPABLE OF BEING ALTERED. OW YOU CANT SNORT OR INJSET ANY OPIOID PAIN PILL AND THEY ARE CRAZY EXPENSIVE IF YOU DONT HAVE INSURANCE. IF I WERE AN ADDICTOR A JUNKIE I KNOW I WOULD HAVE GRADUATED FROM PAIN PILLS TO HEROIN MANY YEARS AGO. PEOPLE ARE BORN ADDICTS. THEY USUALLY START IN THEIR TEENS NOWADAYS. BASED ON EVERY REPORT I READ, EVERY STAT I SAW AND EVERY STORY ABOUT A DEATH I READ, NOBODY, NOT 1 PERSON DIED FROM PAIN PILLS.WHEN TAKEN AS DIRECTED. I WILL NOT DENY THESE MEDSMCAN BE DANGEROUS, DOCTORS MUST DO DRUG SCREENINGS AND ASK ABOUT ADDICTION HISTORY OF.EVERY PATIENT. ACUTE PATIENTS SHOULD ONLY BE ON OPIOIDS FOR SHORT TERM THEN WEANED OFF. IF CHRONIC PEOPLE ARE ABLE.TO FUnCTION better and have a much better quality of life because they take 2000 mg morph eq then as long as they have proven to be tolerant, fine they should be allowed. they are on. these meds for life. if they decide to stop. NO , U CANT JUST STOP. IT WILL TAkE SEVERAL MONTHS OF WEANING .OR DETOX AT REHAB. THOSE AR E THE TRUE REASONS PROP AND INSURANCE COMPANIES WANT THESE MEDS LOWERED TO A POINT OF NO EFFECACY, THEY BOTH GAIN FINANCIALLY. TRUST ME , NONE OF THEM CARE ABOUT ADDICTS. THEY CARE.ABOUT THE MONEY.THEY WILL GET IF THESE GUIDELINES GO THRU. I HAVE MANY FRIENDS THAT HAVE GONE THRU REHAB. WHILE YOUR IN, YOU ARE DRINKING THEIR JUICE. THE REALITY IS, THERE IS NO FOLLOW UP. THEY HOPE YOU RELAPSE OR DIE FROM AND OVERDOSE. PHOENIX HAS A 3%SUCCESS RATE. THIS IS BECAUSE OF THE GOVT FUNDING AND THROWING ADDICTS IN REHAB INSTEAD OF JAIL AFTER.3 BUSTS JAIL TIME SHOULD BE MANDATORY.. ADDICTS DONT STOP UNTIL THEY ARE READY TO ADMIT THEIR PROBLEM AND BELIEVE A POWER GREATER THEN THEMSELVES CAN HELP. WHEN FORCED TO GO TO REHAB.IT DOESNT MEAN THEY ARE READY. WITHIN 3 MONTHS 90 % RELAPSE, WITHIN A YEAR 97%. AFTER A YEAR 3% GET IT.
    THEY CANT TOUCH DRUGS OR ALCOHOL.
    WITH THAT SAID, IF THE REHAB HOUSE PROP TRULY BELIEVES OPIOID PAIN PILLS ARE UMNECESSAYS PERIOD AND CHRONIC PAIN PATIENTS ARE JUST ADDICTS. THEN WHY IS THERE A A MAXIMUM DOSE OR ANY DOSE EVEN ALLOWED. ITS BECAUSE THEY KNOW MOST PEOPLE WONT AND ARENT BEING WEANED JUST LOWERED. THE BODY CANT HANDLE THAT. HEROIN USE WILL GO UP SEVERAL HUNDRED % . Durg cartells see this as the best thing that ever happenenld to them. imagime 20 million people in aweful pain, going thru withdrawls. THERE WILL BE A DRUG DEALER ON EVERY CORNER,

  3. BL at 11:54 pm

    dave rosen, politicians have no say in how the public comments are handled. It will be up to the CDC how much if any weight they want to give the public comments. You also need to remember that those that are in favor of these guidelines are also commenting. I hate to say this, but those that are begging for the guidelines to be adopted because they have lost a family member to drugs will more than likely carry more weight than chronic pain patients saying that they can’t function without their meds. It comes down to the “greater good.’ Lives matter, quality of lives don’t, unfortunately. If they do change it, it will not be enough that chronic pain patients will feel like they have been heard.

  4. dave rosen at 10:00 pm

    actually ot reads that the va must follow the guidelines. but the guidelines have not officially been completed yet. once they read all of the comments and answer to a few senators and regulators as to how these guideline came to play make revisions or drop it completely. Thats why commenting on the cdc website is impairative. Prop has phoenix house addicts writti g in. im sorry we all need to write 10 to 20 different letters that appear to come from different people

  5. Barbara at 7:19 pm

    Scott, Its true – the CDC guidelines are in massive bill that was passed and signed into law. I saw a PDF file on it-I couldnt find it for you- but I remember that it was on page 44

  6. Scott michaels at 7:58 am

    BL I AM SORRY TO DISGREE WITH YOU BUT THE GUIDELINES HAVE NOT BEEN PUBLISHED. YES THEY ARE IN THE BUSGET, BUT OUR COMMENTS AND THE SUPPORT WE ARE FINALLY RECOEVING MAY FORCE THESE GUIDELINEZ TO BE COMPLETELY REWRITTEN.
    ON OF THE THINGS THAT MUST BE LOOKED AT IS GRANDFATHERING OPIOID PATIENTS. THEY ARE BECOMING AWARE THAT THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN ON THESE MEDS FOR OVER a few YEARS SHOULD NOT BE ADJUSTED OR AFFECTED.
    IF THE GUIDELINES BECOME VOID, THAT MONEY WILL JUST GO BACK TO THE GENERAL FUND.
    WE NEED TO CONTINUE. THEN TOTALLY REBEL IF YOU ARE RIGHT!

  7. BL at 8:13 pm

    Many wondered if this comment period was meaningful or just being done to shut everyone up. It appears that it was done to shut everyone up and the public comments mean nothing. We already know that the CDC Guidelines aren’t Law. The FDA 120 mg Morphine/Morphine Equivalent Daily aren’t Law either, but almost all drs are going by it. The way the Budget Bill reads, the CDC Guidelines will be adopted by VA period. There is nothing to pass or fail because these Guidelines aren’t laws.

  8. PhDScientist at 3:48 pm

    The need to remove Marijuana from Schedule 1 and make it available in all 50 states for Physicians to prescribe on the same basis as every other medication is one of the most important moral issues of our time.

    We need to move on this immediately, It is a true “Wonder Drug” for Cancer Patients undergoing Chemotherapy It saves the lives of Children with Seizure disorders It is incredibly effective for treating PTSD and depression — without the danger of suicide that comes with SSRI;s when used in young adults, When used as a pain medication, it has an unmatched has a safety profile, including an incredibly wide therapeutic index, that makes it safe for patients to self-titrate without danger of danger of organ damage and death, in sharp contrast to Opiates, and to existing over-the counter pain killers such as NSAIDS, or Tylenol.

    When used in combination with Opiates for the most severe pain, it allows patients to use less Opiates for the same level of subjective pain relief, and in states with Medical Marijuana law, Opiate deaths drop 25%-33%.

    Because of its safety profile — especially its incredibly wide therapeutic index — it should be considered as a front-line therapy, rather than a last resort.

  9. michael hause at 12:27 pm

    Hopefully the guidelines will be stopped due to the illegal way the were drawn. If no guidelines to follow the VA CANT adhere to them.
    VETS and family members BETTER START SPEAKING UP FOR THEMSELVES. Now!