Evaluating Federal, State Policies Addressing Chronic Pain

Last week, DCBA Managing Partner Michael C. Barnes presented at PAINWeek in Las Vegas, Nevada. Barnes’s presentation, entitled “I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One in DC: Federal Action and Its Impacts on Pain Care,” touched on several federal and state policies that affect people with chronic pain and the professionals who treat these patients. Barnes provided a detailed overview of relevant provisions of the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, as well as other Congressional efforts to regulate opioid prescribing and dispensing. The presentation also touched on calls from experts and government agencies to evaluate the impact of such policies on patients with pain. Finally, Barnes discussed several state efforts, such as the Massachusetts CARE Act, and other trends relating to the practice of pain management and their effects on patients with pain.

DCBA Announces New Article: Impact of State, Federal Opioid Policy

DCBA’s Managing Partner, Michael C. Barnes, authored an article published this week in PAINWeek Journal entitled “I’m Not a Doctor, But I Play One in D.C.: Federal Action and Its Impact on Care.” Barnes’s article discusses the unintended consequences of state and federal opioid policy. The article analyzes changing trends in Washington, state capitals, and courthouses across the country as policymakers begin to recognize the harm caused by ill-advised approaches to overdose reduction. Barnes highlighted recent instances in which policymakers have acknowledged the need for professional discretion and individualized care in pain management and addiction treatment.

Attorney Behind Push For Florida Warm Handoff Law

DCBA Managing Partner Michael C. Barnes recently sat down with NOPE Task Force for a brief interview. NOPE Task Force is a non-profit founded in 2004 to address the overdose crisis and prevent drug abuse. The organization is particularly known for the quality of its presentations to young people and advocacy work. Barnes has maintained a close relationship with NOPE Task Force and Founder Karen Perry in his work on advocating for warm handoff laws, which encourage or require emergency departments to transition patients with substance use disorders to treatment once they are stable.

In the interview, Barnes highlighted his work with NOPE Task Force to pass Florida’s 2017 warm handoff law, as well as a journal article on the topic he published with DCBA Associate Attorney Daniel L. McClughen earlier this year. The article covers liability laws, prescription drug monitoring programs, privacy, and other legal issues relevant to emergency department notifications and discharges. Barnes also spoke about some of his ideas on how to address the drug abuse and overdose epidemic. Read the full interview here.

DCBA Announces New Article: DOJ Raids of Health Care Providers

DCBA Law & Policy LLP announced today that American University’s Washington College of Law has published in its Legislation & Policy Brief a new article by Managing Partner Michael C. Barnes. Entitled “A More Sensible Surge: Ending DOJ’s Indiscriminate Raids of Health Care Providers,” the article discusses the indiscriminate nature of recent U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) raids, searches, and investigations of prescribers of opioid medications.

“Not all health care professionals subject to the DOJ’s searches and seizures are ‘dirty docs.’ In fact, some of them are nationally recognized leaders not just in pain management, but also in addiction medicine,” Barnes writes.

The article describes how raids on the prescribers of controlled medications put patients’ lives at risk, destroy professionals’ livelihoods and careers, and create confusion, fear, and reluctance to prescribe among other health care providers. Barnes argues that the DOJ’s actions undermine congressional efforts to expand the number of practitioners who prescribe medications to treat opioid use disorder (OUD).

In the article, Barnes proposes a policy to help health care providers feel confident prescribing medication to treat OUD and other conditions for which controlled medications may be necessary. This policy would require complaints in which medical need and patient care are at issue to be investigated first by licensing boards, which are governed and staffed by individuals with health-specific expertise, rather than by law enforcement.

Women in the Overdose Crisis

Earlier this week, DCBA Associate Attorney Shruti Kulkarni presented at HealthyWomen’s Chronic Pain Summit. Kulkarni’s presentation, “Gender Differences in Pain and Substance Use Disorders: Eliminate Discrimination, Improve Treatment, and Save Lives,” provided an overview of gender differences in the effects of medication and treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). The presentation explained how pharmaceutical research and development practices that do not account for distinctions in biological factors between genders can lead to increased health risks for women, including missed opportunities for prevention, incorrect diagnoses, misinformed treatments, sickness, and death. Kulkarni also described the unique barriers to SUD treatment that women face, including greater risk of arrest and criminalization, lack of access to care, and lack of childcare. Finally, Kulkarni provided examples of federal initiatives to expand access to and improve treatment of SUDS in women and increase public awareness of the importance of the inclusion of diverse groups of women in clinical research.