COVID-19 has demanded overwhelming government resources and the constant attention of our policymakers. Sadly, this focus and subsequent expenditures have not halted the health crises that existed previously and continue. In Indiana, the opioid epidemic remains a pressing public health emergency. Opioid overdoses claimed 1,104 Hoosier lives in 2018 after a spike which began in 2016. Additionally, Indiana providers wrote 65.8 opioid prescriptions for every 100 people, a ratio substantially higher than the national average.
Reading those statistics leaves me with a pit in my stomach, but little shock. In my time as a state senator, I’ve learned about addiction and led the ﬁght to provide solutions in the opioid epidemic in Indiana. We have, indeed, made real progress and yet the severity and scale of this issue demands increased local and federal collaboration. To put it simply, when it comes to the opioid crisis, Hoosiers need bold, life-saving action. To continue our working relationship, I am asking the Indiana congressional delegation to help pass the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation Act (NOPAIN) Act.
The NOPAIN Act seeks to increase patient and provider access to non-opioid approaches to pain management. It expands coverage for medical facilities to provide non-opioid treatments to patients by updating the Medicare rules that cover these treatments. To put it simply, it gives patients a non-addictive pain treatment choice where they currently lack it.
As more patients reschedule their surgeries that were postponed due to COVID-19, it is crucial we provide them addiction-free options to manage their pain. As a start, I encourage Indiana’s congressional delegation to co-sponsor the NOPAIN Act and work to pass this bill.
State Sen. James W. Merritt Jr.