House Passes Walorski Opioid Bill Named for Hoosier Doctor

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

House Passes Walorski Opioid Bill Named for Hoosier Doctor

Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act Would Address Opioid Epidemic by Improving Access to Non-Addictive Pain Treatments

WASHINGTON – The House today passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) to combat the opioid epidemic by improving access to non-opioid pain treatments. The bipartisan bill was named in honor of Dr. Todd Graham, the South Bend doctor who was shot to death last summer after refusing to write a prescription for opioid painkillers.

“The opioid epidemic continues to tear apart families and devastate communities all over the country,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “We all need to work together to find commonsense solutions to prevent and treat addiction. Before he was tragically killed, Dr. Todd Graham was leading the way in treating the underlying causes of pain rather than simply prescribing pills. The bipartisan legislation that just passed the House will help build on his legacy by breaking down barriers to non-opioid treatments and giving doctors better tools to prevent addiction and assist in recovery.”

The Dr. Todd Graham Pain Management, Treatment, and Recovery Act (H.R. 6110) passed the House unanimously by voice vote. Dr. Graham’s wife Julie was at the Capitol for the bill’s passage. Video of Congresswoman Walorski speaking on the House floor about the legislation is available here.

BACKGROUND

The House in recent days has passed dozens of bills to prevent opioid abuse, support addiction treatment and recovery, and combat the shipment and sale of illegal drugs. H.R. 6110 is an updated version of legislation Walorski introduced to reduce overprescribing of opioids by examining ways to expand the use of non-opioid alternatives in Medicare. The legislation was recently approved by the Ways and Means Committee.

Among other provisions, H.R. 6110 would direct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to study ways to improve access to non-opioid pain management treatments. HHS would solicit stakeholder feedback, conduct a study, and submit recommendations to Congress improving payment, coverage, and coding policies related to the use of multi-disciplinary, evidence-based non-opioid treatments for acute and chronic pain management for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Part A or B. The study would include an evaluation of possible coverage and payment barriers that prevent Medicare beneficiaries from accessing non-opioid alternative pain treatments and technologies.

H.R. 6110 also includes steps to improve treatment strategies and case management for various high-risk patient populations. It also includes other bipartisan provisions to ensure there are no misaligned financial incentives to prescribe opioids over non-opioid alternatives, and it provides best practices and educational resources for the expansion of addiction treatment for those suffering from mental or behavioral health issues, particularly in rural areas.

Todd A. Graham, M.D., a doctor with more than three decades of service, was shot and killed on July 26th, 2017, after refusing to prescribe an opioid painkiller to the shooter’s wife. Dr. Graham was a double board-certified physician in both Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Pain Medicine.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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