Oregon: 67K Medicaid pts told to say goodbye to their opiate pain management


BEND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon proposal to expand alternative treatments for certain chronic pain conditions while limiting the use of opioids has moved forward with minimal changes, despite outcries from chronic pain patients and criticism from pain experts across the country.

The Bulletin reports that the state’s Chronic Pain Task Force, an ad hoc committee providing recommendations on treatments for chronic pain under Oregon’s Medicaid program, backed a proposal Wednesday to provide coverage for five chronic pain conditions currently not covered by the Oregon Health Plan.

That would allow patients to receive services such as physical therapy, acupuncture and other types of treatment. Opioids would be covered in limited doses for some of the chronic pain conditions, but not for fibromyalgia or centralized pain syndrome, a central pain processing disorder that can heighten the response to painful stimuli.

The task force concluded that opioids are not beneficial and can be harmful for those conditions.

Overprescribing of prescription opioids has been blamed for the ongoing overdose epidemic nationwide.

Patients who are already taking doses above the opioid limits would be required to begin a taper of their medications at rate determined in conjunction with their doctor. Patients with fibromyalgia or centralized pain syndrome would be required to taper off opioids completely.

“This is basically more extreme and draconian than any approach in the country. It goes against all of the guidelines,” said Kate Nicholson, a civil rights attorney from Colorado and a chronic pain advocate. “And importantly, it does so without regard for any attempt to measure potential harms or benefits to patients.”

The proposal is the second try by the task force to craft the chronic pain coverage guidelines.

A previous proposal would have limited opioid coverage to 90 days and required patients to taper off painkillers within a year. After hearing from patients and providers, Oregon Health Authority staff reworked the proposal to soften the language and provide patients and their doctors more flexibility in the rate of tapering.

“We at OHA believe that health care delivery is really dependent on the trusting relationship between a patient and provider,” Dr. Dana Hargunani, chief medical officer at OHA, told the task force. “All of the proposal elements, particularly addressing the opioid tapers . including the timelines, the rates and the ultimate success in getting to zero, are intended to be flexible and to meet individual patient needs based on the patient and doctor relationship.”

Oregon Health Authority officials estimated that about 67,400 people would gain coverage to alternative pain treatments under the proposal and that between 600 to 1,200 patients would need to have their opioid treatments re-evaluated by their providers.

25 Responses

  1. If the government doesn’t like opioid, then at least make things like MMJ legal–federally. Or maybe just make all drugs legal and let God sort them out. (Or Gods)

  2. The bigger the dumb, the harder the fall 🙂

  3. The number affected in all reality are the one million Oregonians on opioid pain medication. They are having theirs reduced to a level that in all reality is not functional. I think many who will still have them prescribed will find the recommended guidelines will be intolerable.

    The saddest will be those who can no longer tolerate that pain and choose to take their life. Their voices will be lost and that is indeed sad. Their families will lose someone special who did no wrong. They were struck down with intractable pain with no end in sight, pain that wax triggered by disease or trauma. America has lost her humanity all because of those who have chosen to abuse drugs and alcohol.

  4. I guess the idea is to remove opoids and instead try acupuncture and physical therapy. I have Fibromyalgia, and I tried both of those things. Neither one did a thing for me. Yet they want to deprive me of the pain relief that allows me to function? How is this legal? What about my rights?

    • Emily; chronic pain patients do not have rights, and “civil rights” attorneys & orgs are deliberately keeping out of the issue. And isn’t it just an amazing coincidence that the task farce that decided upon this insane policy is made up of…several acupuncturists, physical therapists, a naturopath, a chiropractor….the very providers of the “alternatives” they’re going to force us to try (even tho most of us have already done so). Remarkable that they stand to benefit hugely from the very policy they’re forcing upon us, isn’t it? Yet somehow, neither Kate Brown, nor the other morons in OHA, nor the press, nor anyone else is noticing or reporting on the screamingly blatant conflict of interest this represents.

    • Peter;
      This, like an article in the Lund Report, is nothing but a press release that the OHA cooked up to try & shut up the dissenting voices. If you actually read the “improved” plan, it’s not improved at all; there are a very minimal # of conditions where the patient “might” be allowed to continue to receive opioids, after their doctor goes thru a checklist of 13 requirements & several other hoops that will then be sent along to the OHA for approval –which is pretty much guaranteed not to happen. PROPAGANDA, pure & simple.

  5. Cancer patients too? As a cancer patient I am having problems getting my pain treated. I was doing fine until this so called opiate crisis began. I had a friend a few weeks ago who had terminal brain cancer get cut to 20 oxycodone a month then to nothing. He tried to deal with the pain for two months. He no longer could handle the pain. That night he took gun and shot himself. I am sure suicide rates will go up quickly thanks to these draconian rules! God have mercy those who have to live with pain because government bureaucrats want to play God. I hope those responsible for these new rules have to experience excruciating pain like we have. God damn you all to hell.

  6. I guess you could move but where, what state is next? My God, how horrible.

  7. Are there any board members who are not Addiction specialists? Are there any physicians who treat pain? Or, gasp, pain patients? So tired of addiction getting all the attention, and pain patients the blame. Blame society. Blame parents. Stop blaming us.

  8. How convenient Death with Dignity is legal in Oregon. Seems like Oregon is culling the chronically ill!!! This is in comprehensible and I hope these asshats are held responsible as they WILL have blood on their hands!!!

    • I knew that was going to happen, just let the old, sickly people go and put down like an animal. I could see this coming when they started this Death with Dignity.

    • I knew this was going to happen. This is why I was against the Death with Dignity crap. Now they won’t have to worry about suicide, just have a doctor assist in your death. This is a load of crap. Everyone should of seen the writing on the wall in this. Put to sleep like an animal. How barbaric.

  9. Sounds like a disaster in waiting. Doctor/patient relationship will be a factor whether opiate medication is prescribed or not?? What does a social relationship have to do with pain management? Urine screening. Double urine screening. Pill counting! Our physicians already know who needs medication and who don’t, what the benefits are, what the harm may be. They HAVE to document treatment with a controlled substance but they are NOT allowed to exercise their judgement because of the CDC “guideline” and DEA enforcement. I wish no harm to anyone and I do hope that every member of the OHA has long life. Say to live to be 140 years old!

  10. I guarantee you that if anyone sitting on that board had either of these diseases this would NOT be an issue. You are taking away the ability of living a less painful life for these folks. Disgusting!!

    • One of the people sitting on that board declared at a meeting that she was given opioids for her C-section & how she wouldn’t have made it without the meds….but of course, no one ELSE’S pain is real. This is the type of ….person, to be generous, that is on this Task Farce.

  11. Extract: “Over prescribing of prescription opioids has been blamed for the on going overdose epidemic nationwide.”

    My reaction: Utter bull ….. nonsense, the vast majority of opioid overdoses are among those who use such drugs for recreational purposes.

  12. This is inhuman! There will be many deaths is this goes through. My husband and I were looking into moving and opening a branch if our business to OR. Not now. I live this State beauty but now will never spend a dime there. This is plainly genside. I just do not understand how they have so much power to be able to do this? Is this final.

  13. If I said what I was thinking, I’d be arrested immediately!!!!!!

  14. 67k to lose their pain medications? This is inhumane

  15. ” 600 to 1,200 patients would need to have their opioid treatments re-evaluated by their providers.” First, where did these idiots get these numbers? Like everything else they say, out of thin air (to be polite). Second, “re-evaluated” my Aunt Fanny: despite their claims to the contrary, there’s no softening of the forced tapers. The patients will be “re-evaluated” right off pain meds, period. These people have zero relationship with the truth.

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