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AMA Opioid Task Force Releases 2019 Recommendations for Policymakers to End the Epidemic

Jun 03, 2019

The American Medical Association (AMA) Opioid Task Force, of which AAPM&R is an active member, released recommendations yesterday calling on policymakers to eliminate barriers to treatment and to take additional steps to end the nation’s opioid epidemic.

The task force’s new recommendations to policy makers focuses on barriers to treatment for pain management and rehabilitation care, and substance use disorder, and other policies that result in restricting patient care. These include prior authorization, step therapy and other administrative burdens as well as inadequate enforcement of state and federal laws that require insurance parity for mental health and substance use disorders. The original task force recommendations, issued in 2015, focused on actions that physicians could take to help end the epidemic.

The AAPM&R has collaborated strongly with the AMA to combat the opioid epidemic over the past several years. This second set of AMA Opioid Task Force Recommendations are another great step in the right direction.  It is incumbent upon us as Physiatrists to advocate for our patients and utilize these recommendations when we interact with legislature and payers in support of our patients who suffer with chronic pain and/or opioid use disorder.” - Ameet Nagpal, M.D., M.S., M.Ed., AAPM&R Representative, AMA Opioid Task Force

The new recommendations:

  1. Remove prior authorization, step therapy and other inappropriate administrative burdens or barriers that delay or deny care for FDA-approved medications used as part of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
  2. Support assessment, referral and treatment for co-occurring mental health disorders as well as enforce state and federal laws that require insurance parity for mental health and substance use disorders.
  3. Remove administrative and other barriers to comprehensive, multimodal, multidisciplinary pain care and rehabilitation programs.
  4. Support maternal and child health by increasing access to evidence-based treatment, preserving families, and ensuring that policies are nonpunitive.
  5. Support reforms in the civil and criminal justice system that help ensure access to high quality, evidence-based care for opioid use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment.