Legislation Aims to Curb Drug Abuse Among Seniors

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A shot of a senior asian man taking a medicine

Opioid pain medication addiction is now considered an epidemic as the number of those who are addicted quadrupled in the past two decades. The highest age group plagued with this addiction are senior citizens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is set to introduce a new bill for bipartisan legislation that aims to tackle prescription drug abuse among seniors. With approximately 170,000 people receiving Medicare benefits impacted by this epidemic, the bill can save an enormous amount of taxpayer funds.

Putting an End to Multiple Prescriptions

Use of multiple doctors and pharmacies is one way that drug seekers can obtain multiple prescriptions and the drugs they need to fuel their addiction. The new bill would limit the use of doctors to one and the use of pharmacies filling their prescriptions to one. This eliminates what addicted patients have access to. The practice of “doctor-shopping” and “pharmacy hopping” would be stopped by this limitation.

Better use of Medicare funds will allow these funds to serve more patients, thus ensuring funding availability for those in future generations.

Better Foothold on Medication Costs

Increases in costs of Medicare-approved drugs have created a huge loss of revenues being filtered into the Medicare system, over a period of many years. The current problem is exponentially increased due to the sheer numbers of those reaching Medicare age in the Baby Boomers generation. These are people born between the years 1946 to 1964; whose ages today are from 51 to 69. This age group is raising costs of Medicare-provided services through the roof, with little or no end in sight.

Controlling costs of medication has become a national concern over the last 10 years, especially as these seniors reach age 65 and the Medicare system is hit with such high numbers of applicants and their medical expenses.

Increasing numbers of seniors with addiction to pain medication creates a severe hit on the funds allocated for Medicare treatment, threatening losses in the billions of dollars to these programs.

Cost-cutting measures have been established across the country as each state has implemented programs to offset the losses. This current proposal is another way to address the issue.

Keeping the Medicare System Alert

Looking for those who are guilty of seeing multiple doctors, who are filling more than one prescription for their addictive medications is a big part of the bill. These measures are similar to those already in place for Medicaid and private insurance programs nationwide.

Anyone with a propensity toward abusing prescription pain medications would be singled out of the plan for inclusion into a drug-diversion type of treatment program. They would be allowed to determine a preferred provider for prescribing their required medications and filling prescriptions. Limitations would be placed on how much and how often these could be refilled. Controls and monitors would be exercised in this person’s use of medications.

All members of the team of doctors and providers within the Medicare system would be encouraged to remain watchful of patients in the system to determine possible problems with drug-seeking behaviors and possible dependency issues around the medications seen as problematic. They would also implement necessary interventions and recommendations for treatment of drug dependencies where needed.

Stopping Medication Abuse and Protecting Seniors Act

  • Preference for their provider and pharmacy use would be granted, unless that provider or pharmacy has been determined to contribute to abuse in the past.
  • The beneficiary will be notified when they have a change in status of benefits and a clinical review provided to determine which members require high doses of pain medication, keeping them out of the program as needed.
  • Determining clinical criteria for who is eligible and at-risk of abusing opioid pain medication.
  • Those who receive hospice care or long-term care in nursing homes will be determined eligible for exemption from this ruling.
  • Create guidelines for data sharing between providers, plans and contractors to decrease opportunities for abuse of the plan, as well as fraud and waste problems.
  • Address any areas of concern for prescription drug abuse aside from opioid pain medications.
  • Create procedural criteria for any member’s inclusion in the program and their appeal rights.

Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work and a CATC IV in addictions counseling. She teaches meditation and mindfulness, specializing in addiction and trauma and recommends essay help online with professional writers wich have years of experience in this field and they can help you with any written work!. She also leads workshops and seminars on treatment of addictive disorders and stress reduction.

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