Congress Scared of the AMA

The American Medical Association (AMA) is in opposition to Congress’ efforts to control the use and prescription of opioids, reports Its advocates are opposing measures and recommendations of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the AMA has threatened to withdraw its financial support. As a result, lawmakers are conflicted on how to progress with legislating laws intended to restrict and educate medical practitioners on the dangers of opioids.

Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rob Portman (R-OH) proposed updates to the 2016Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act (CARA) to include CDC guidelines regarding the use of opioids.

As this controversy unfolds, lobbyists from the AMA have vowed not to support proposed updates to the CARA 2.0 Act. The lobby group strongly objects to updates that make physician reeducation mandatory, the three-day opioid prescription rule, and database checks of a patient’s medical history before opiate prescription. Subsequently, the AMA’s stance has angered proponents of the proposed CARA Act 2.0 amendments.

  1. Joe Machin (D-WV) blamed legislators who are “too scared to take on the AMA” for lack of progress. As the AMA contributes considerable funds to elections, it is understandable why lawmakers are hesitant to engage it. Also, the AMA opposes federal grants to states that target the realignment of drug prescription processes through Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs. Essentially, the AMA doesn’t oppose the use of PDMPs but opposes the creation of any law that would compel physicians to actually use it in all cases.

In its March 2016 recommendations, the CDC provided guidelines on how to administer opioids: low dosages for a period of three days in case of acute pain. Nonetheless, the powerful lobby group argues that any recommendations contradict the premise of its guidelines. For instance, its three-day limit ignores the provision that all clinical decisions occur through mutual consent between a physician and a patient. In effect, these recommendations limit the ability of physicians to provide patients with much-needed help.

Besides, the AMA contends that no single solution is effective in addressing the opioid crisis. For this reason, it is urging Congress, state legislatures, and taxpayers to fund evidence-based treatment as an alternative. It is notable that a majority of patients addicted to opioids can’t access care due to obstacles raised by taxpayers and others.

Nonetheless, not all opioid-related legislation is being opposed. An example is the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 which provides funding to states as well as directing how funds should be used.

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