Numerous physicians are claiming a part of Obamacare is fueling the drug epidemic in America.
TIME MAGAZINE is reporting that as part of an Obamacare initiative meant to reward quality care, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is allocating some $1.5 billion in Medicare payments to hospitals based on criteria that include patient-satisfaction surveys. Among the questions: “During this hospital stay, how often did the hospital staff do everything they could to help you with your pain?” And: “How often was your pain well controlled?”
To many physicians and lawmakers struggling to contain the nation’s opioid crisis, tying a patient’s feelings about pain management to a hospital’s bottom line is deeply misguided––if not downright dangerous. “The government is telling us we need to make sure a patient’s pain is under control,” says Dr. Nick Sawyer, a health-policy fellow at the UC Davis department of emergency medicine. “It’s hard to make them happy without a narcotic. This policy is leading to ongoing opioid abuse.”
That abuse has led to a full-blown crisis. Since 1999, fatal prescription-opioid overdoses in the U.S. have quadrupled. According to the CDC, more than 47,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2014, a record high, and more than 60% of those deaths involved an opioid. U.S. emergency rooms now treat more than 1,000 people every day for misusing prescription opioids.
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