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Attorney General Schneiderman Calls On Insurance Companies To Review Policies That Drive Opioid Epidemic

News from Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 18, 2017

Attorney General’s Press Office / 212-416-8060
nyag.pressoffice@ag.ny.gov
Twitter: @AGSchneiderman
 

ATTORNEY GENERAL SCHNEIDERMAN CALLS ON INSURANCE COMPANIES TO REVIEW POLICIES THAT DRIVE OPIOID EPIDEMIC 

Bipartisan Coalition Of 37 AGs Urges Insurers To Examine Financial Incentives In Payment And Coverage Policies That Result In Over-Prescription Of Opioids And Make It Harder To Access Non-Opioid Alternatives

Since 2010, A.G. Schneiderman Has Launched Multi-Pronged Strategy To Tackle The Epidemic – Including I-STOP, Which Has Reduced Doctor Shopping By 90%

NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, part of a bipartisan coalition of 37 Attorneys General, today urged health insurance companies to examine financial incentives in their payment and coverage policies that contribute to the opioid epidemic. The coalition called on the insurers to identify problematic policies and encourage reforms to make non-opioid alternatives for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain more accessible.

“Everyone– including and especially insurance companies – have an obligation to address the opioid epidemic,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Insurers must take a hard look at the systemic problems in our healthcare system that result in the over-prescription of opioids and fuel the cycle of addiction. My office will continue to bring all our resources to bear in fighting the opioid crisis that’s destroyed too many families across New York.”

Click here to read the letter.

Describing the opioid epidemic as “the preeminent public health crisis of our time,” the 37 Attorneys General sent the letter today to industry trade groups and major insurance providers nationwide. It urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry.

We have witnessed firsthand the devastation that the opioid epidemic has wrought on our States in terms of lives lost and the costs it has imposed on our healthcare system and the broader economy,” the letter states. “As the chief legal officers of our States, we are committed to using all tools at our disposal to combat this epidemic and to protect patients suffering from chronic pain or addiction.”

The Attorneys General, in acknowledging the important role insurance companies can play in reducing opioid prescriptions, hope to assess the positive and negative impacts incentive structures have on the opioid epidemic. Incentives that promote the use of non-opioid techniques will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments, including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, and non-opioid medications.

Increased reliance on these alternatives will combat a significant factor contributing to the epidemic – the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain.

The letter was signed by the Attorneys General of New York, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Since 2010, Attorney General Schneiderman has launched a multi-pronged strategy to tackle New York’s evolving opioid epidemic, including creating the Internet System for Tracking Over-Prescribing (“I-STOP”). I-STOP made a series of enhancements to New York’s prescription drug monitoring program that provide doctors with patient’s up-to-date controlled substance prescription history and establish a safe disposal program for New Yorkers to get rid of expired or unneeded drugs. I-STOP has reduced “doctor shopping” – in which an individual attempts to obtain the same or similar prescriptions from multiple physicians – by 90 percent since 2014.

Attorney General Schneiderman has also reached settlements with major health insurers to remove barriers to life-saving addiction treatment and enforce Mental Health Parity LawsLast week, the Attorney General’s office sent letters to the country’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers requesting documents, data, and other information regarding how they are addressing the opioid crisis.

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