Medicare Is Cracking Down on Opioids. Doctors Fear Pain Patients Will Suffer.

Medicare Is Cracking Down on Opioids. Doctors Fear Pain Patients Will Suffer.

“The decision to taper opioids should be based on whether the benefits for pain and function outweigh the harm for that patient,” said Dr. Joanna L. Starrels, an opioid researcher and associate professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. “That takes a lot of clinical judgment. It’s individualized and nuanced. We can’t codify it with an arbitrary threshold.” Underlying the debate is a fundamental dilemma: how to curb access to the addictive drugs while ensuring that patients who need them can continue treatment. The rule means Medicare would deny coverage for more than seven days of prescriptions equivalent to 90...

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