March 04, 2021

Manchin, Capito, Shaheen, Portman Introduce Legislation to Help Stem Opioid Epidemic

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act. The legislation aims to help address barriers to non-opioid pain management for those enrolled in Medicare, which will help stem the opioid epidemic across the nation.

“West Virginia has been ravaged by the drug epidemic and consistently leads the nation in drug overdoses per capita. It’s heartbreaking to see the impact of the drug epidemic on the Mountain State and her people, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only made it worse,” Senator Manchin said. “I am proud to reintroduce this bipartisan legislation to prioritize reimbursements for non-opioid treatments to ensure that non-opioid treatments are used whenever possible. We must address the drug epidemic so our communities can recover from the impacts of this terrible crisis, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support our commonsense legislation.”

“Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately exacerbated the addiction epidemic in West Virginia and across the nation,” Senator Capito said. “Now, more than ever, it is critical we take a multifaceted approach to address this crisis. An important part of this approach is ensuring that the Medicare program does not create a perverse incentive for doctors to continue to prescribe opioids to patients. Instead, we should incentivize providers to utilize innovative non-opioid drugs and devices. The NOPAIN Act is an important step forward in preventing future addiction.”

“As Granite Staters grapple with dual crises imposed by the pandemic and the worsened opioid epidemic, we must address substance misuse as holistically and comprehensively as possible,” Senator Shaheen said. “This bipartisan bill would help stem opioid misuse by encouraging doctors to prescribe alternatives to opioids for Medicare patients struggling with pain management. Turning the tide on the opioid epidemic must be at the top of Congress’ agenda, and I’ll keep working across the aisle to find common-sense ways to help Granite Staters from developing addictions and becoming victims of this deadly epidemic.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a year of historic levels of overdoses and we must deploy every tool in our toolbox to combat this devastating opioid crisis. I believe that we should be incentivizing the use of non-addictive pain alternatives, but unfortunately, our current Medicare policies do not. I’m proud to support the NOPAIN Act, and I know that this is an important step forward in promoting responsible, non-addictive pain alternatives,” Senator Portman said. 

 “Between July 2019 and July 2020, nearly 84,000 Americans died from a drug overdose,” said Chris Fox, Executive Director of Voices for Non-Opioid Choices. “The vast majority of these deaths result from our nation’s ongoing opioid crisis. Fortunately, we can address this crisis by doing more to prevent opioid misuse in the country, particularly by minimizing unnecessary exposure to opioids for acute pain patients. The NOPAIN Act would go a long way towards preventing opioid misuse by fully incentivizing the use of all safe and effective non-opioid pain management approaches. We applaud Senator Capito for her leadership on this issue. ”

Under current law, hospitals receive the same payment from Medicare regardless of whether a physician prescribes an opioid, or a non-opioid. As a result, hospitals rely on opioids, which are typically dispensed by a pharmacy after discharge at little or no cost to the hospital. The NOPAIN Act would change this policy by directing CMS to provide separate Medicare reimbursement for non-opioid treatments used to manage pain in both the hospital outpatient department (HOPD) and the ambulatory surgery center (ASC) settings.

U.S. Representatives Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.) plan to re-introduced companion legislation.

A one-pager on the bill can be found here.

Bill text can be found here.