Rep. Peter Roskam, chairman of the House Ways and Means health subcommittee, told colleagues and witnesses at a hearing this week that Congress has “only begun to scratch the surface” in its efforts to reduce opioid abuse. The hearing was held to explore opioid addiction in the Medicare population, which is growing by 10,000 baby boomers day. While the crisis is expanding, Roskam said there is a lack of available data regarding the Medicare population and the extent to which opioid abuse, overprescribing and diversion is an issue for seniors and the disabled. “We must harness innovation, technology and data to get ahead of this problem,” Roskam said in his opening statement. Among the witnesses at the hearing was Gov. Phil Scott of Vermont, who said that for the first time, the number of opioid prescriptions in his state were beginning to decline, partly due to enhancements in Vermont’s Prescription Monitoring System. Still, he noted, “it is discouraging” that “we still prescribe three times as much as we did in 1999.” Click here to watch a video of the hearing.
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