The Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse met on April 13 in Milwaukee to discuss alternatives to opioids for treating pain. The Task Force heard from several groups advocating for alternative treatments including: Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers (behavioral health services), Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association, Wisconsin Association of Nurse Anesthetists, Wisconsin Chiropractors Association, Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, and Wisconsin Society of Certified Acupuncturists.
The general consensus of the Task Force and groups present was that opioids are an effective treatment to acute, not chronic pain. Presenters said the state needs to educate lawmakers, providers, patients, and insurers on these types of alternative treatment that are non-addictive, long-term solutions to chronic pain. Some said alternative treatments can also be less expensive than treating patients with opioids and their resultant side-effects.
Several of the groups cited insurance coverage as a barrier to patient access to alternative treatments. They said high co-pays and high deductibles or total lack of coverage often prevent patients from utilizing alternative treatments. Task Force members were very interested in the issue of insurance coverage for these types of treatment. Co-chair Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) emphasized that the Task Force tries not to mandate coverage but to set best practices via the state Medical Assistance program. Nygren indicated that the next Task Force meeting will focus on insurance coverage, and they would bring in state and national insurance groups to present to the group.
For more information on opioid abuse prevention and treatment in Wisconsin, please visit our Issue Update.