Pain must be managed and suffering is overrated. However, we are in the midst of an opioid bloom in this country. Lives are being destroyed. People are trading one type of suffering for another all across this country. It’s a tragedy writ large.
We’ve covered the roll of cronyism and how it has factored into the current drug crisis. It was a factor in getting this ball rolling. It would be a horrible shame if the massive bureaucratic beast which is Obamacare helped to perpetuate the current troubles.
This is what always happens with titanic programs. They are filled with mistakes which then can’t or won’t be changed. In the meantime things get worse and new problems arise which again can’t be addressed effectively because of the size of the bureaucracy. More dysfunction and more suffering.
Let us pray that what appears to be a very unfortunate unintended consequence of Obamacare is addressed uncharacteristically with haste and care.
CMS, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), disputes any link between its surveys, a hospital’s reimbursement money and opioid abuse. In March, agency doctors wrote in JAMA that the patient-satisfaction survey accounted for 30% of a hospital’s total performance score in fiscal year 2015, with pain management one of eight equally weighted dimensions, along with factors like nurse communication and cleanliness and quietness. (CMS did not respond to interview requests.)
Still, lawmakers are concerned. Republican Senator Susan Collins, whose home state of Maine saw a 27.3% rise in its drug-overdose death rate from 2013 to 2014, has called for HHS to investigate the connection between the surveys and inappropriate prescriptions. “Health providers are telling me that these questions are written in a way that make them fear a lower reimbursement if patients did not answer them in the affirmative,” says Collins. “For a small rural hospital in Maine to lose a certain percentage of their Medicare reimbursements is a big deal.”