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NAM Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic Publishes Priorities, Strategies to Preserve the Health and Well-Being of Individuals with Substance Use Disorders and Chronic Pain during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unprecedented challenges. The pandemic is also exacerbating other ongoing public health emergencies, including the addiction crisis in the United States. During these challenging times, the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM) Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic remains wholly committed to supporting the health and well-being of individuals with substance use disorders (SUDs), including opioid use disorder, and chronic pain. These individuals are among the most at risk and susceptible to COVID-19, and their care and treatment is among the most disrupted by physical distancing and other measures that have been put into place to prevent the spread of the virus. It is critical that steps be taken to ensure that their health, safety, and care are protected in the near and longer term.

To this end, the Action Collaborative’s Steering Committee have identified and published a series of priorities and strategies for providers, health systems, researchers, policymakers, regulators, and health leaders alike to preserve the health and well-being of individuals with SUDs and chronic pain. 

Key priorities highlighted include: 

    1. Plan for deliberate evaluations of implementation and response strategies and policies enacted during COVID-19
    2. Utilize telehealth to support the needs of patient populations with SUDs or chronic pain during COVID-19 and beyond  
    3.  Reinforce safety net programs that help protect certain high-risk populations  
    4.  Maintain high-quality care for individuals with pain  
    5.  Address immediate research, data, and surveillance needs and enhance reporting  
    6.  Monitor and take steps to prevent a rise in SUDs and overdoses  

Read the full list of priorities and strategies

AAPM is a Network Organization of the NAM Action Collaborative on Countering the U.S. Opioid Epidemic. AAPM Past President Jianguo Cheng, MD PhD represents the Academy serving on two of the collaborative’s work groups, the Health Professional Education and Training Working Group and the Research, Data, and Metrics Needs Working Group. View the AAPM commitment statement.

Four-Part Webinar Series on Confluence of the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Opioid Epidemic Begins July 20

A webinar series on the intersecting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic with the national opioid epidemic is being hosted by the Collaborative for Effective Prescription Opioid Policies (CEPOP) group and Mothers Against Prescription Drug Abuse (MAPDA). The series of four one-hour webinars will seek to share information on this topic, with the goal of fostering more effective and sustainable policy action. The series begins Monday, July 20, 2020, at 3 PM EST, and goes through August 17. For more information.

USPSTF Released Final Recommendation Statement and Evidence Summary on Screening for Unhealthy Drug Use

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a final recommendation statement on screening for unhealthy drug use. That Task Force found that clinicians should ask adults about their drug use and connect people who have a problem to care. More research is needed to make a recommendation for teens. View the recommendation, the evidence on which it is based, and a summary for clinicians.

AAPM Signs AMA Letter Discouraging CMS Expansion of NPP Services in IRF Settings

The American Medical Association (AMA), AAPM, and other leading health care organizations released a letter on June 11, 2020, responding to a proposal by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that would allow non-physician providers (NPPs) to provide services at Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRFs) that are currently limited to rehabilitation physicians. The letter discourages the expansion by emphasizing its potential to “undermine delivery of and access to physician-led team-based care” in IRFs. Full letter.

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