September 19, Wisconsin Health News
Attorney General Brad Schimel has joined the chief legal officers for 36 other states and territories to ask that insurers revise policies to reduce opioid prescribing.
Schimel and the other attorneys general wrote Marilyn Tavenner, the CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans, requesting that her members review payment and coverage policies to prioritize non-opioid pain management.
"We have witnessed firsthand the devastation that the opioid epidemic has wrought on our states in terms of lives lost and the costs it has imposed on our healthcare system and the broader economy," Schimel and others wrote.
They added that they'll soon be working with state insurance commissioners and others "to initiate a dialogue" with insurers to identify practices that can reduce opioid prescription and those that don't.
"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 attorneys general wrote. "We ask that you quickly initiate additional efforts so that you can play an important role in stopping further deaths."
Cathryn Donaldson, spokeswoman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said they share the attorneys general's commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic. Health plans cover approaches to pain management that include more cautious opioid prescribing, careful patient monitoring and other treatments, she said.
Many health plans have already instituted programs that are helping to "dramatically reduce how much - and how often - opioids are prescribed," she said.
"By working together, doctors, hospitals, health plans and policy leaders can provide people with better pathways to healing - without putting their lives in danger because of opioids," she said.