June 7, 2018

Young, Donnelly Introduce Legislation Encouraging Non-Opioid Pain Management Alternatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Todd Young (R-Ind.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) today announced introduction of the Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management Improvement Act of 2018. Todd A. Graham, M.D. – a doctor in South Bend, Indiana with over three decades of service – was senselessly murdered on July 26th, 2017 for refusing to prescribe an opioid to a patient. This legislation aims to reduce overprescribing of opioids by examining ways to expand the use of non-opioid alternatives in Medicare.

“The tragic and senseless death of Dr. Graham highlights just how bad the opioid epidemic has become. It is critical that we examine non-opioid alternatives for treating pain in order to help prevent the spread of addiction that is destroying lives and devastating communities,” said Senator Young

“As the opioid epidemic continues to take a toll on Hoosier families and communities, it’s essential that Medicare beneficiaries have better access to non-addictive pain management options,” said Senator Donnelly. “I was proud to join Senator Young in introducing this bipartisan bill that would honor the late Dr. Todd Graham, a Hoosier, and help improve our ability to provide non-addictive treatments to treat those battling pain.” 

The Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management Improvement Act of 2018 requires the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to solicit stakeholder feedback and submit a pain management study to Congress on recommendations to improve payment and coverage policies related to the use of non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Parts A or B. 

The report will include an evaluation of potential legislative and administrative changes to Medicare to allow beneficiaries better access to non-opioid treatments and technologies.  In addition, it analyzes Medicare coverage and payment for medical devices, non-opioid based drugs, and other therapies (including interventional and integrative pain therapies) approved or cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of pain.  HHS will consult with stakeholders including frontline provider and beneficiary groups to ensure input is provided from across the medical community.

The bill also requires HHS to develop recommendations on legislative and administrative action in the following policy areas:

  • Expanding coverage and payment for non-opioid pain management therapy options that minimize the risk of substance use disorder.
  • Treatment strategies for beneficiaries with psychiatric disorders, substance use disorders, who are at risk of suicide, or have other comorbidities that require specialty care.
  • Appropriate case management for beneficiaries who transition between inpatient and outpatient settings, or between opioid therapy to non-opioid therapy.
  • Outreach to educate Medicare beneficiaries and providers on alternative, non-opioid therapies to manage and treat acute and chronic pain, including potential creation of a beneficiary education tool.

U.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (IN-02) led the introduction of the Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management Improvement Act of 2018 in the House of Representatives in May.

Click here to view the bill text.