September 22, 2017
AHIP Chief Medical Officer Richard Bankowitz weighed in with the New York Times on the leadership role health plans are playing to combat the opioid crisis. Read full letter to the editor below.
To the Editor:
“Insurers Putting Cost Over Safety With Painkillers” (front page, Sept. 18) misses a significant point: Health plans have been a critical force in driving the recent declines in monthly opioid prescriptions.
Health plans are committed to solving this crisis. Plans employ doctors, nurses and other experts to evaluate scientific evidence and understand what tools, treatments and technologies best improve patient health. They work closely with care providers every day to cover the safest, most effective and most proven approaches to managing pain.
This includes education about evidence-based approaches to managing pain; outreach on the dangers of opioids; identifying and encouraging alternative, nonopioid treatment plans like exercise and physical therapy; promoting careful patient monitoring; and dispensing an appropriate amount of prescription drugs.
Patients deserve care that is delivered safely and affordably, in the most effective setting and at the most appropriate frequency. That’s why many health plans have instituted new programs that are helping to reduce how much — and how often — opioids are prescribed.
By working together, we can provide patients with better pathways to healing without putting their lives in danger because of opioids.
RICHARD BANKOWITZ, WASHINGTON
The writer is chief medical officer for America’s Health Insurance Plans.