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3 Ways the Opioid Crisis Has Affected Your Healthcare Plan and Business

This summer, Congress has prioritized addressing the opioid epidemic through legislation. About 57 bills have been approved by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and many have bipartisan support. The bills address multiple elements of the crisis, ranging from increasing access to treatment and recovery services, to increasing awareness of non-opioid treatments for pain.

If some of these bills are passed, expect to see some changes to the healthcare industry. Here are 3 ways the opioid epidemic and the upcoming legislation to combat it may affect your healthcare plan and your business in general.

1. Link between prescription abuse and decline in labor force participation.

Most Americans addicted to opioids are of working age, and the epidemic is believed to have debilitated thousands of workers. About 20% of the 5-point drop in labor force participation between 1999 and 2015 is due to opioid abuse.

2. Promotion of nonaddictive treatment alternatives

In addition to the proposals in the House, the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee approved over 40 bills meant to address the opioid crisis. One of the bills is designed to promote alternative treatments to opioid painkillers, such as ibuprofen and aspirin. Recent research suggests than over-the-counter painkillers such as Tylenol are just as effective for pain as prescription opioids.

3. New Policies from the American Dental Association

The American Dental Association (ADA) has taken measures to regulate opioid prescriptions. In March, ADA vocalized its support of mandatory continuing education for opioid prescribers. It also pushed for a statutory seven-day limit for using opioids to treat acute pain and encouraged dentists to participate in Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), which are designed to promote appropriate opioid use and to deter misuse and abuse of the substance.

Both the House and the Senate are expected to vote on these respective bills this summer. To learn more about how these potential new laws could affect your healthcare and benefits plan, feel free to contact Cambridge for a consultation.

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Arthur Grutt