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Congressman Tom O´Halleran

Representing the 1st District of Arizona

O'Halleran Introduces Legislation to Curb Drug Overprescription

May 17, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Last week Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) joined Congressman Diane Black (TN-06) to introduce the Reducing Overprescribing Opioids in Treatment (ROOT) Act. This bipartisan legislation would improve safe provider prescribing practices by requiring changes to Medicare patient satisfaction surveys used to determine eligibility for bonus payments. 

“Quality metrics are an important tool as we move towards value-based care, but I have heard from many providers across my district about unintended consequences of some of these metrics, including patient self-evaluations related to pain,” said Rep. O’Halleran. “Forcing providers to rely on these evaluations to receive needed funds from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has led to a sharp overprescription of pain medicine with a high rate of abuse. Our commonsense bill eliminates even the smallest incentive for doctors to overprescribe opioids.”

Currently, Medicare incentive funding for hospitals is based on a patient satisfaction survey called the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS). This survey includes 25 questions used to measure hospital performance, and three questions inquire specifically about patient pain management while in the facility. If patients report experiencing more pain, the entire survey receives a lower score and hospitals have a lower chance of receiving funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). 

The ROOT Act directs the Department of Health and Human Services to either eliminate pain questions from the current patient satisfaction survey, or provide education about opioid risks in one of the existing survey questions. 

“We should allow doctors and hospitals to compete for Medicare incentives without forcing them to overprescribe dangerous opioids to their patients to get there,” continued Rep. O’Halleran. “I thank Congressman Diane Black for her leadership on this issue, and I support this bipartisan legislation. This is a strong effort to stop one aspect of the opioid crisis from the start.”

The ROOT Act passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee earlier this week.