Oregon chronic pain advocates appear to be making progress.
The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) announced Friday that the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), will reopen discussions on the coverage guidelines related to neck and back pain implemented in 2016, beginning this spring.
The Oregon proposal to force taper patients off opioids has been criticized by pain medicine leaders and patient advocate organizations.
In addition, in the wake of mounting evidence that federal guidance, notably the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, was causing a reduction in opioid prescribing that was hurting chronic pain patients, the CDC, the FDA, the American Medical Association and the Surgeon General have ALL recommended moderation in prescribing.
“The evidence on the effectiveness of opioid therapy for chronic pain and opioid tapering are limited, but rapidly growing,” said Dana Hargunani, M.D., chief medical officer at OHA. “We are grateful to the HERC for facilitating thoughtful, methodical deliberations in the face of limited evidence.”
The Oregon policy is aimed at the Medicaid population—and two Oregon women impacted by the decision have been relentlessly talking with health officials, media and others who will listen about the inequity of the HERC proposal.
Amara M. and Wendy Sinclair were pleased today at the press release in advance of next week’s HERC meeting.
In 2017 OHA convened the Chronic Pain Task Force to explore whether a similar expansion of services should be offered for OHP patients with five other chronic pain conditions: chronic pain due to trauma, post-procedural chronic pain, chronic pain syndrome, other chronic pain, and fibromyalgia. Currently, these conditions are not intended to be covered by OHP.
The proposal that was informed by the task force garnered considerable concern and attention from advocates, providers and experts across the country, prompting deeper dives into the evidence. Most recently OHA commissioned a third-party review by Washington-based Aggregate Analytics Inc. (AAI) to evaluate how closely the proposal aligned with available evidence.
“The past year has been a valuable learning experience for OHA and the HERC,” said Kevin Olson, M.D., HERC chairman. “Not only will we apply what we learned to the chronic pain proposal currently under consideration, we feel there is enough new evidence to reopen the 2016 back pain guidelines to ensure our policies align with our best understanding of clinical evidence. I want to thank the advocates and experts who have voiced concerns and directed our attention to new information.”