By Ed Coghlan.
Oregon’s Health Evidence Review Commission’s (HERC) Value based benefits Subcommittee heard testimony from national pain leaders, Oregon physicians and nurses and pain patients during a day long meeting on Thursday.
At issue is the controversial proposal that HERC is considering to force taper Oregon Medicaid patients off opioids in one year. While they are essentially guidelines, HERC calls them a prioritized list policy - HERC dictating how doctors care and prescribe for their medicaid patients, essentially.
The proposal raised the ire of pain patient advocates and medical professionals across the country. HERC’s Chronic Pain Task Force, which developed the guideline, has been asked to meet again on September 20th and consider the testimony heard this week.
Oregon physician Dr. Ginevra Liptan, who opened the nation’s first practice devoted to fibromyalgia was among those who testified—tearfully-against the guideline. Dr. Liptan has had fibromyalgia since she was in medical school at Tufts.
Also testifying against the guideline was Bob Twillman, Ph.D., is the Executive Director for the Academy of Integrative Pain Management. In that capacity, Dr. Twillman is responsible for overseeing federal and state pain policy developments and advocating for those supporting an integrative approach to managing pain.
In addition, two nurses from Oregon, Carolyn Concia and Karen Yeargin added their perspective that the forced taper guideline as constructed would hurt chronic pain patients-many of whom depend on opioid medication in their battle against pain.
Oregon’s chronic pain community showed at the meeting in Wilsonville to let the HERC members know that they believe these guidelines will hurt chronic pain patients. The “protestors” were outside the meeting site early Thursday morning, only to find out the HERC members went in the back door.
Two woman who led the protest, who do not wish to have their names publicized because of fear of recrimination against them and their doctors, labeled the day a “great success”.
They also warned-“the battle continues”.