AHQA Applauds Passage of the REACH OUT Act to Address Opioid Crisis

Yesterday the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 5796, the REACH OUT Act by unanimous consent. This bipartisan legislation introduced by Congressmen Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA 8), Mike Thompson (D-CA 5), and Carlos Curbelo (R-FL 26), accesses the nation’s Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization (QIN-QIO) infrastructure in order to offer timely resources to address the opioid epidemic.

Specifically this legislation sets aside $75 million in funding in FY19 for grants to QIOs to provide technical assistance to high opioid prescribers. QIN-QIOs operate in all U.S. states and most territories and act as a clinical quality field force committed to providing technical support that will reduce the frequency of opioid prescribing at the local level.

“This bill enables the nation’s premier quality improvement network to help stem the tide of the opioid epidemic through education and outreach, which are important tools to improving health quality. Too often the discussion around opioids is about treatment and policing, and not enough about prevention. This bill will give our public health infrastructure another tool to fix the opioid epidemic that is destroying communities and lives throughout the country,” said Alison Teitelbaum, Executive Director of the American Health Quality Association, the leading trade association for the QIN-QIO program that has been advocating for the REACH OUT Act.  

Opioids now account for an astonishing 39 million Medicare Part D claims each year, and CDC data indicate that 90,000 patients in the U.S. are currently at serious risk of harm from opioids. Medical professionals prescribing opioids are key stakeholders to help reduce, and ultimately prevent, inappropriate opioid prescriptions. The REACH OUT Act empowers QIOs to educate outlier prescribers regarding best practices for opioid and non-opioid pain management therapies, with the explicit goal of achieving demonstrable reductions in opioid prescribing. The legislation will improve the quality of health care in the country and keep unnecessary opioid prescriptions out of circulation.

Since 1984 the American Health Quality Association (AHQA) has represented Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) and other professionals working to improve health care quality and patient safety. AHQA is an educational, not-for-profit national membership association dedicated to promoting and facilitating fundamental change that improves the quality of health care in America.