News from the States
- Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report examines Washington State post-marijuana legalization, finds increased rates of marijuana usage and impaired driving
- Ohio Board of Pharmacy adopts resolution allowing for personal furnishing of naloxone
Around the Agencies
- Department of Veteran Affairs announces full coverage for veterans with hepatitis C for current fiscal year
- CMS releases new tool tracking disparities between Medicare beneficiaries
- NIH study discovers mindfulness meditation engages a different brain pathway than opioids
In the News
- ASAM announces addition of addiction medicine as new medical subspecialty under the American Board of Preventative Medicine
- Health Affairs survey reports $15.4 billion in annual spending by physicians to report quality measures
News from the States
Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report examines Washington State post-marijuana legalization, finds increased rates of marijuana usage and impaired driving
The Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NWHIDTA) released a report last week finding increased rates of marijuana usage and impaired driving in the wake of Washington State’s legalization of marijuana. The report states that between 2013 and 2014, forty-eight percent of student expulsions and 42 percent of suspensions directly involved the use of marijuana. Twenty-four percent of individuals aged 18 to 25 reported past-month marijuana usage in 2014, with 17 percent using marijuana weekly and 6 percent using marijuana daily. Marijuana usage among Washington adults was 5 percent higher than the national average between 2012 and 2013. The report further asserts that between 2010 and 2014, the number of drivers with active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in their blood during fatal driving accidents increased 122 percent from 16 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2014. The NWHIDTA notes that marijuana from Washington State has been found in 43 different States around the country.
Read the full report here.
Ohio Board of Pharmacy adopts resolution allowing for personal furnishing of naloxone
The Ohio Board of Pharmacy adopted a resolution allowing Board-licensed facilities to stock “non-patient specific” naloxone earlier this month. This measure will allow facilities to keep additional doses of naloxone on site in the event of emergency. The regulatory statement notes that this resolution “addresses a concern raised by a number of entities that wanted to have naloxone on-site but could not afford the cost of equipping all staff.”
Read the full resolution here.
Around the Agencies
Department of Veteran Affairs announces full coverage for veterans with hepatitis C for current fiscal year
The Department of Veteran Affairs has announced their ability to cover treatment for veterans with all stages of hepatitis C within the current fiscal year. Secretary David Shulkin noted that the expanded care is the result of both increased Congressional funding and reduced hepatitis C drug prices. The Department of Veteran Affairs was allocated $1 billion for hepatitis C drug purchases in FY 2016, an increase from the $696 million appropriated in FY 2015. The Department of Veteran Affairs has requested $1.5 billion for FY 2017 to continue expanding veterans’ access to hepatitis C treatment.
Read the full story here.
CMS releases new tool tracking disparities between Medicare beneficiaries
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) Office of Minority Health has released a new tool tracking disparities between Medicare beneficiaries. The tool displays geographic, racial, and ethnic differences in hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and readmissions for chronic conditions. The tool also measures the overall prevalence and variation of chronic conditions. CMS hopes the tool will be used to better understand health outcome disparities throughout the country. KPMG and the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago helped develop the tool as part of CMS’s broader plan to improve Medicare quality.
Access the tool here.
NIH study discovers mindfulness meditation engages a different brain pathway than opioids
A National Institutes of Health (NIH) study partially funded by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health has discovered that mindfulness meditation engages a separate pain relief brain pathway than opioid pain relievers. This finding provides specific evidence of how mindfulness meditation works to provide pain relief. The study examined four separate treatment groups, finding that participants who meditated during administration of saline or naloxone experienced lower pain intensity than the control groups. The researchers concluded that mindfulness meditation therapy combined with other pharmacologic or non-pharmacologic options may provide new approaches to pain treatment.
Read the full announcement here.
In the News
ASAM announces addition of addiction medicine as new medical subspecialty under the American Board of Preventive Medicine
Earlier this week the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) celebrated the addition of addiction medicine as a new subspecialty by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) under the American Board of Preventive medicine. This new inclusion will allow addiction medicine fellowship training programs to be accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), thereby increasing access to funding for programs bolstering the substance use disorder workforce. ASAM also notes that this development will help to include addiction medicine specialists within health networks. The announcement was the result of more than a decade of work by ASAM members to increase access to treatment and address the substance use disorder workforce.
Read the full press release here.
Health Affairs survey reports $15.4 billion in annual spending by physicians to report quality measures
A new survey published by Health Affairs reports that physicians spent $15.4 billion a year on health quality measure reporting for Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance companies between 2014 to 2015. The survey finds that physician practices spend 15 hours a week or more on work related to health quality tracking and reporting. Survey authors note that the majority of the time spent on health quality reporting involves data entry. Eighty percent of the practices surveyed reported spending more resources on quality measurement compared to three years ago, with half of the practices reporting that existing quality measures are time consuming due to frequent duplication of similar measures. The survey recommends that the industry make efforts to standardize quality measures to improve efficiency.
Read the full study here.
Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, (202) 293-0090 or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Public Policy Associate, at (202) 293-0090.