Oregon Rolls Back Opioid Tapering on Neck and Back Pain – but Not Other CPP Conditions

Oregon Rolls Back Opioid Tapering on Neck and Back Pain - but Not Other CPP Conditions

The Oregon Health Authority’s Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) has decided to remove requirements for opioid tapering for neck and back pain.

The Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) today voted unanimously to update Oregon Health Plan (OHP) coverage for neck and back pain, by removing requirements for opioid tapering. The change will be effective October 1.

Also under consideration was a proposal to cover opioids and a variety of alternative modalities for the five chronic pain conditions at issue - in addition to ceasing mandatory tapers. Although that option represented an ideal according to many, experts, and was the option for which we advocated, OHA declined to go for that option.

“The vote is a significant win. Oregon reconsidered the 2016 policy of force-tapering patients with conditions of the back, neck and spine, and declined to force taper those with chronic pain conditions, including fibromyalgia,” said Kate Nicholson, a disability right attorney who was one of the national voices that protested Oregon’s forced tapering policy.

The effectiveness of national attention that came to the issue was more than augmented by a plucky group of Oregon Medicaid patients—who showed what the power of advocacy can really do. They made calls, they wrote letters and generally kept up the local pressure.

“The HERC is often faced with important decisions with limited clinical evidence available,” said Dana Hargunani, M.D., chief medical officer at OHA. “We want to thank the members for their thoughtful deliberations. We are committed to reviewing new forthcoming evidence ahead.”

Meanwhile, the HERC unanimously declined to cover treatments for the five chronic pain conditions that had been under consideration since 2017, citing a lack of evidence of clinical effectiveness for both non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic treatments for those conditions.

The five conditions under consideration were: chronic pain due to trauma, post-procedural chronic pain, chronic pain syndrome, other chronic pain, and fibromyalgia.

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Authored by: Ed Coghlan

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You are RUINING LEGITIMATE CHRONIC PAIN PATIENT’S LIVES, requiring their HEARTBROKEN Doctors to FORCIBLY use your MEDIEVAL GUIDELINES or lose their LICENSES, and watch their patients QUALITY OF LIFE QUICKLY EBB AWAY. Shame on you people. SHAME!


How does a CPP find out how to contact the movement in their state? I am in Oregon and want to help and be heard.

Carrie Witte

Hi, my pain patient family, good news on my front in SoCal, my doctor stopped the mandatory tapering and increased my pain medication to a quantity that is helping my chronic pain. My chart now has chronic pain listed along with my OA and my disc /spine degeneration and multiple major joint replacements and a second neck fusion. I also suffer from low back and sciatica. I also in the past 6 months have developed hand arthritis and right hand carpal tunnel syndrome. I am able to function fairly well on good days and the bad days are tolerable. Still need another knee replacement. I am praying my pain management after surgery will be better this time around. Keep up the fight and let’s win this unfair race. You all will be in my prayers. BTW I am a registered nurse and trained in the 90’s that pain is the 5th vital sign and always assess the patient’s pain level. I am a patient advocate and chronic pain patient and when I was practicing would always treat everyone with respect. I believe uncontrolled pain stresses the body and needs to always be treated.


Again, politics are the real culprit deciding which health issues THEY believe shold be treated, and not individually based treatments. I will not be as cruel, harsh, and self-serving, as some individuals believing they know what, and which pain should be addressed in the medical community, by lowering my standards to that level. Some people get a taste of power, even though they are not qualified to decide who, and how people should be treated for pain, etc., but feel THEY get to play God, because they THINK they know what is best for everyone. I will not wish the cruel, inhumane, and unjust suffering that pain patients are experiencing, on them, by hoping the same for them, their loved ones, and anyone they care about. After all, this war on pain patients, and the medical comunity, continues, and it is difficult to believe any person who has experienced this torture first hand could ever be so evil as to allow these injustices to continue another day. Many people quote a saying that has been around for a very long time, and it still rings true-You never really know how it feels until it happens to you, or somebody you love. As I said, I do not wish the pain on anybody, however, I am human, and I will not deny that sometimes I have to remind myself to be better than that. Oh yeah, what goes around, very often, does come around. For all the money hungry, self-serving, better than thou, attitudes that often come with this false sense of power, and caused by those people who obviously have not experienced this war first-hand, it will be too late. Ignorance is bliss, and experiencing this horrific, inhumane despair, I do not wish on anyone, has already become a crime against humanity. Maybe the policymakers began trying to address a serious problem against addiction, and crime, but those areas are seperate from medically necessary treatments, for those in pain. They have politics and revenue written all over them. What about humanity?


So does that mean patients go back to their normal doses of pain meds so they can function? I sure hope so.

Rosalind Rivera

Congratulations! It goes to show what power in numbers can do. It’s time for we Californians to get on the bandwagon of protest. I for one am and have been a serious chronic pain victims for many years. In addition to my coverage of pain medications having lost most of its potency and now with the tapering also, I have become practically bed bound and completely isolated from the rest of society. I’m just in too much pain and no one wants to deal with much less spend any amount of time with someone in a state of intractable, chronic and unforgiving pain. With the tapering,
my condition has posed an even greater danger when my thoughts travel to other means of relief and I must add that these thoughts are more rampant with each day.
California, wake up or have to deal with many, many more suicides and a surge of criminal behavior from honest law abiding citizens that no longer live but are simply existing for who knows how much longer.
I address those controlling these serious and very harmful scenarios that they are forcing us to exist with as the control of the lifeline with our pain medications has come to such an abrupt and cruel end. I don’t enjoy taking drugs however not having these very necessary pain medications is bringing me and many others to our deaths!


When the 2 million Americans have Lyme in 2020 as projected the pain will be sadly extremely more severe than just neck and back pain.
They are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Those voting in these measures may need the meds themselves. Very sad state of affairs.

Thomas Wayne Kidd

This is but a prelude to more suffering. I realize that most people won’t want to hear what I am going to say, but here it is anyway. There is behind all this insanity something called Antichrist it’s the system of mankind and their government. This evil is also known as Babylon taken from the Old Testament and their inhuman treatment of all who would not bow to their evil ways. This system is world wide and will only grow more wicked. One thing on the agenda is population control. The unborn child was their first attack beginning in 1973 with Roe V Wade. Next is the sick and elderly. People for a long time now have been turning away from the righteous teachings of CHRIST, and the law of sowing and reaping has set in. Sadly millions will not survive this. I encourage all my fellow pain sufferers to diligently seek our Redeemer and Creator. He is still in charge though many people think He is on vacation. Disobedience has been practiced for so long and people are spiritually asleep at this evil time of our history. Praying while disregarding God’s Commandments is a futile attempt by millions of professing Christians. Ears have become dull for hearing God’s word, and eyes are blinded to the plain signs of these last days. So many people don’t even believe that we are living in the time of the end of all things. False prophets and false teachers are continuing to spread lies and bind more and more people. The love of TRUTH is nearly gone from millions in societies across the planet. This insanity is just a foretaste of what is coming. I pray that some who read these words will hear and begin to search the Scriptures, for in them we can find Jesus and His Salvation, and they are they which testify of Him from Genesis to Revelation. In His love which sustains me through trials and suffering. Your servant and fellow chronic pain sufferer. Thomas Kidd.


Can they stop the Dr’s from prescribing it, (they are not that expensive), or can they just not cover it if you are on their medical aid?

Jeanette French

I agree, stop using the term opioids, use illegal drugs, It is confusing to everyone and everyone hears this and automatically thinks of prescription drugs and this is not a prescription drug issue, it is an illegal drug issue. I am tired of being targeted when we are responsible patients, and are blamed for irresponsible others. If we would follow Portugal’s lead on the drug war, we wouldn’t have a drug war.

Jeanette French

I appreciate what they decided but I feel like it should still be the doctors call about prescribing this medication. Fibromyalgia is very painful, they just have no idea, and it does work and it is a chronic condition, and little else helps it. As with the other conditions they talk about that they will not consider with this, I believe it is between the doctor and patient and not someone sitting on a board who doesn’t know much about pain condition. There isn’t alot out there for Fibro and these other conditions, and the meds they tell people to take do not work and they have some major side effects.But I do appreciate that they are taking their time and at least listening to people ND MORE IMPORTANTLY THE DOCTORS who treat pain conditions and patients.


What about the new yes a draft but new guidelines pain draft said opioids at dose DOCTOR and patient together determine and under treatment of pain can be an issue
These are federal guidelines which should trump state and I read them on this site
I do not understand if federal and experts realize damage from misunderstood 2016 CDC guidelines
How can Oregan do this What state we live in should not determine how good our pain management is
I would love live near family but can not risk loss pain management
If Oregan passed death with dignity why not life with dignity One does not need to be terminal to suffer


Intracable Chronic Pain Patient’s have been placed in with drug addicts on studies about Addiction and Withdrawl.
The government agencies are uneducated as to who we are in being compliant intracable chronic pain patients. They can not separate us from addiction, drug abuse, and withdrawal defined by drug addicts. We have never been acknowledged, studied, or ask about taking Opoids medication and our compliant record.
The government agencies have neglected duediligence in making the compliant intracable chronic pain patients profiled as drug addicted. We the compliant intracable chronic pain patients withdrawal, long term use, and understanding of our pains definition has NEVER been described in terms that meet our medical, psychology, and physical needs. Our only definition by the government agencies is drug addict. The government agencies will not accept anything different than the blatantly negligent guidelines they have placed us under. We have been profiled, shamed, shunned, demeaned, physician rejection, medical care rejection, bullied, cursed at, stigmatized, labeled, refused appropriate medication, called liars, drug seekers, the list could go on.
No other patient group has had there medical care so blatantly misdiagnosed by government agencies. They won’t even consider helping us because of the stigma they have profiled for us as being Opoids addicts. The government agencies have such tunnel vision to the drug addict they can’t see our medical needs.
We have, still are, and continued to be labeled as drug addicts since compliant intracable chronic pain patients taking Opoids following guidelines before 2016 just boggles there mind. They can’t comprehend compliant, following guidelines, following physician orders, having quality of life, and not abusing pain medication.
How can medical government agencies neglect such a profound
Travisty of injustice to there citizen’s?


A hysterectomy about 10 years ago left me with intractable acute chronic pain from pelvic pain syndrome caused by the surgery and which refused to respond to pelvic floor PT, other non drug treatments, and all drug treatments except for opioids.

Without opioids, I would have killed myself years ago due to the pain.

Maybe the newer law is b/c the excluded conditions are suffered mostly by women.

I love the new Nevada state legislature which is the first majority women and is passing all sorts of legislation which in the past never would have even been discussed.

Carrie Witte

I live in So Cal and suffer with arthritis of my spine, low back and cervical spine.. My mri’s, xrays ct scans and body scans show my pain. I have had djd, arthritis since my late 20’s and the pain and debilitaing nature of my chronic disease has caught up to me in my late 40’s. My pain is well documented. I am glad they agree that pain management is needed for my chronic disease, I pray my other chronic pain community friends will also be recognized. I have OA, and have had 2 neck fusions, 2 hip replacements and 1 knee replacement awaiting my second. Post surgery pain management sucks. All of my surgeries have been in the last seven years. God. bless and continue the race of life

Kathleene Jara

We need to insist that they return medical decisions regarding treatment to Physicians. Lists of diagnoses can not adequately identify the legitimate need for pain relief with Opioids. Physicians will not, nor should they, treat patients over the phone. They cannot adequately identify needs without seeing a patient and assessing their situation. Need cannot be rated merely from a list. To do so is the heght of folly. Please put the practice of Medicine back into the hands of the Physician. There are other more adequate practices to punish physicians who are prescribing opioids and other addictive medications without care and specialties in this area. It is truly cruel to deny patients with chronic and incurable diseases that cause severe pain, the necessary level of treatment with chemotherapy that meets their needs.

Maureen M.

Why oh why do the leaders in this decision making not see the stupidity behind them?! And the mere positive decision they did make doesn’t take fact until Oct?! Don’t they realize just how many more people they are harming until then.
Such insanity.

Gail Honadle

The five conditions under consideration were: chronic pain due to trauma, post-procedural chronic pain, chronic pain syndrome, other chronic pain, and Fibromyalgia…FMS, yeah after they’ve put all of us in a Hack-able Data Base. There is NONE FOR STREET JUNKIES who OD now is their? What is the Hidden agenda there? Government does nothing without an Agenda!

Doctors nor states have gotten that worthless Memo. Doctors are scared and giving up their Prescribing Licenses.

We still have the same stupid rule NO Benzo with a Pain Med. Not all Benzo’s are Physche drugs. Valium is a Muscle, Nerve, and Seizure medication, a very effective older safe one, that can be mixed with a Pain Med. Stop calling them Opioids as it is confused with Illicit Street Drugs. They are Pain MEDS.

Stop telling me Yoga will improve my back pain when my spine is totally degenerative and the pain never lets up.

Max Beichert

One ought never to wish for chronic pain on another human being, but in this case it’s tempting to make an “exception” (pun intended), for Oregon legislators, purely for educational purposes of course. Pain is pain. Except in Oregon?!

Billie McCurdy

It sad that they did not consider or CRPS RSD or CPS. My pain is neck and spine Plus RSD or whatever they call it now. I was electrocuted by a large TENS unit after surgery and it cuz my RSD to spread throughout my body on top of my neuropathy fibromyalgia and my neck and spine problems. I am happy that they are helping back and neck patients but I feel for those who’s suffer from other pain related diseases they are just as bad. My prayers are that they come to their senses to help my fellow pain patients who are suffering dearly. They have reduced my medicine by 75%. I’m not able to get out and enjoy life like I used to, but at least I’m still alive for now.
I have missed so many mile stones with my grandchildren because I’m unable just sit or walk for too long. Thank God they understand and there’s videos now days , but it’s nothing like being there. Pain patients don’t ask for much all we want is relief. Find new ways to relieve the pain if pain medicine will no longer be available. There has to be scientist out there working on helping stop the pain other than pain medication.

Gary Raymond

It is a good thing the topic is not aspirin. There would be 51 ways to administer it depending upon geography. We have not been able to contain illegal drug use for 60 years. I never imagined I would be persecuted for obeying the law regarding prescription medications. There are more than just opioids being withheld from the elderly - and the decisions are being made by pharmacies, contrary to doctors’ orders. Where is the AARP when we need them?