Attorneys General in 37 States Urge Insurance Industry to Do More to Curb Opioid Epidemic

ProPublica, September 21, 2017

In their letter to AHIP, the attorneys general urged insurers to revise their rules "to encourage healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options over opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain."

This article first appeared September 18, 2017 on ProPublica.

by Charles Ornstein

Attorneys general for 37 states sent a letter Monday to the health insurance industry’s main trade group, urging its members to reconsider coverage policies that may be fueling the opioid crisis.

The letter is part of an ongoing investigation by the state officials into the causes of the opioid epidemic and the parties that are most responsible. The group is also focusing on the marketing and sales practices of drug makers and the role of drug distributors.

On Sunday, ProPublica and The New York Times reported that many insurance companies limit access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications. The safer drugs are more expensive.

In their letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the trade group based in Washington, D.C., the attorneys general urged insurers to revise their rules “to encourage healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options over opioid prescriptions for the treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain.”

“The status quo, in which there may be financial incentives to prescribe opioids for pain which they are ill-suited to treat, is unacceptable,” the letter said. “We ask that you quickly initiate additional efforts so that you can play an important role in stopping further deaths.”

The signatories include the attorneys general of California, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.

ProPublica

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