One of the things that the Affordable Care Act has sought to ensure for patients is that they are well cared for during hospital visits. Medicare payments are allocated to hospitals based on patient satisfaction surveys. These surveys ask patients to measure how well their pain was taken care of during a hospital stay. Physicians find that it’s hard to make people happy without opioid-level pain control, and although it’s not the only factor in the surge of opioid use, this method of measuring a hospital’s success seems to have fueled opioid overuse in the hospital setting.

Time Magazine article April 13, 2016: How Obamacare is fueling the Opioid Epidemic bySean Gregory.

Some doctors say a quirk in the program is a dangerous incentive to prescribe potentially dangerous painkillers.

Not long ago Dr. Bill Sullivan, an emergency-room physician in rural Spring Valley, Ill., refused to prescribe a potentially habit-­forming painkiller to a patient that had requested it by name. That might seem like a good thing since opioid addiction has become a national epidemic. But in fact, as a result of reforms put in place under the Affordable Care Act, he may have put his hospital at financial risk.

As part of an Obama­care initiative meant to reward quality care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is allocating some $1.5 billion in Medicare payments to hospitals based on criteria that include patient-­satisfaction surveys. Among the questions: “During this hospital stay, how often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?” And: “How often was your pain well controlled?” Read more

Prescription opioid pain relievers are at the forefront of opioid addiction. They are the driving factor in opioid overdose deaths. Prevention includes educating people and developing strong support BEFORE serious drug use begins to occur.

Professional Recovery Coaches can provide preventative help before treatment is necessary, or help individuals after treatment to learn to implement the skills necessary to stay clean and avoid relapse episodes.

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