The following email and connected letter is from Dr. Sean Mackey one of the nation’s leading pain physicians, urging fellow pain leaders to sign a letter opposing Oregon’s proposal to force taper patients who use opioids to treat conditions of back, spine and neck and with fibromyalgia. The deadline is two days away so they are hoping to get doctors, nurses, and advocates to sign on the link below.
Solutions are urgently needed to address the dual chronic pain and prescription opioid crises in the United States and across the globe. However, within the context of medical care, one crisis cannot be solved without considering the other. Unfortunately, this nuance is often ignored, with pain and opioid prescribing being legislated at a frightening pace. Some of the legislation is overly reactionary, leading to severe policy measures that lack evidence and often impose harsh unintended consequences to vulnerable patients.
A current example is the State of Oregon’s proposed rule to forcibly taper select patients on Medicaid, a health care program assisting low-income individuals, to zero opioids. This policy is moving forward, despite grassroots and collaborative efforts of clinicians and people with pain, all of whom formed a rapid response to oppose these proposals. Oregon officials also received international attention from media and human rights organizations. Through that collaborative effort, Oregon abandoned their original plan to taper all Medicaid patients on opioids. However, the revised plan is now singling out two pain conditions (conditions of the back, spine, and neck, and fibromyalgia) for forced, non-consensual tapering. And there are no clear plans or resources on how they intend to accomplish this. Other states are watching these efforts. Precedence established in Oregon can readily be expanded to other states.
We believe that a unified response could gain traction at this critical time.
I have drafted a letter addressing this critical issue, and hope you will consider adding your name. I intend to circulate to national pain societies, medical groups, and advocacy organization to request their endorsement.
If you are a leader of such an organization, I recognize the limits you might be operating within, so please consider adding your name as an individual endorsement.
We need all voices heard. Forced, non-consensual opioid tapering to zero is a human rights issue.
Please do not edit the letter; send me comments if you wish. Simply add your name and professional affiliation, and it will automatically save. I will need your response by March 8th, 2019 in order to submit to the Oregon Heath Evidence and Review Commission by their deadline.
Feel free to forward.
If you live in Oregon and are not a pain professional, you are invited to comment here.