Will Medicare’s New Rule Help Solve the Opioid Crisis, or Make It Worse?

Medicare is planning to cut back dramatically on coverage of long-term, high-dose opioid painkillers in order to lower the risk of addiction … but many experts say the new rule could in fact make the problem worse by causing large numbers of patients to turn to dangerous street drugs instead.

Starting in January 2019, Medicare is expected to deny coverage for more than seven days of opioids equivalent to 90 milligrams of morphine daily for anyone except cancer or hospice patients – which will likely cut benefits to about 1.6 million people.

More than 220 professors, treatment experts and patient advocacy groups have signed a letter opposing the change, saying it prevents legitimate care for chronic pain and will plunge patients into withdrawal symptoms. Among other things, the fear is that these patients could turn to the black market and end up using heroin or fentanyl, with a much greater risk of overdose.

Source: New York Times. Click here for more information.