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One of the most talked about healthcare issues in the nation is the opioid epidemic. The problem continues to capture the attention of all levels of government and major health care providers. The issue continues to escalate as the state and national government try to address the issue.
In 2015, the Illinois legislature passed legislation to start to address the opioid epidemic. The legislation included several provisions, including tightening prescribing requirements for Schedule II narcotics, strengthening the Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), and increasing parity in coverage for mental health issues. While the legislature addressed some of the issues, there was more work to do.
As a collaborative effort, several state agencies worked together to develop the State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan. The plan focuses on three main areas: prevention, treatment and recovery, and response. The prevention efforts primarily focus on safe prescribing, education, and monitoring and communication. When reviewing the plan, the ICS noticed it lacked an option for patients to utilize a non-pharmacological approach to pain management. Therefore, we have been actively talking to stakeholders to address that issue.
The Illinois Opioid Response Advisory Council is made up of a group of stakeholders whose overall goal is to prevent and reduce opioid misuse and overdoses. They have four subcommittees whose goal is to establish the steps needed to implement the State of Illinois Opioid Action Plan. Stakeholders include healthcare providers, addiction treatment providers, state agencies, criminal justice advocates and other interested parties.
The ICS has become a member of the “Prescribing Practices Subcommittee” of the Council. While it seems counterintuitive that the ICS would participate in a group about prescribing, this subcommittee works on the issue of physician practices in treatment of pain. For that reason, it is a fitting forum for the ICS to speak about the evidence supporting drug-free approaches to pain management and recommending the inclusion of chiropractic in a practitioner’s arsenal against pain.
Although the scope of practice for chiropractic physicians specifically excludes prescription drugs, the nature of the conditions chiropractic physicians treat (including chronic pain) makes it likely that chiropractic physicians frequently see patients who are experiencing a prescription drug abuse problem.
Therefore, it is important to explain to legislators how chiropractic care can help with this problem. Remind legislators of the following points: