The American Medical Association (AMA) recently launched the “Share Your Story” campaign as part of its work to end the opioid epidemic in the United States. Physicians are encouraged to submit stories about patients who encounter obstacles when seeking care for pain or a substance use disorder. ASCO is now accepting campaign submissions from the oncology community highlighting physician efforts to provide appropriate care in the midst of the epidemic and to urge payers and policymakers to improve access to treatment.
“We know that prior authorization and other administrative practices used by health insurers can impede appropriate, necessary care—resulting in unnecessary harms and sometimes fatal consequences—for a patient with a substance use disorder,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, chair of the AMA Opioid Task Force. “These stories will enable us to identify the unique challenges faced by patients and physicians and share them with health insurers and policymakers in support of solutions to increase access to care. Without proper treatment and access to care, this epidemic will only get worse.”
A recent study of six large cities found that prior authorization for buprenorphine, used to treat opioid addiction, occurred 42 percent of the time, often delaying patients’ access to necessary medicine at a crucial point in their potential recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2016 alone nearly 90 percent of people who need treatment for illicit drug use didn’t get it, largely due to these administrative practices. Physicians agree that these practices must be discontinued and the gold standard in treatment for opioid use disorder, medication assisted treatment (MAT), needs to be immediately available.
The AMA Opioid Task Force recommendations to end the nation’s opioid epidemic can be found here.