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WASHINGTON, DC, March 17, 2014 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Michael C. Barnes, executive director of the not-for-profit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD), issued the following statement today:
Overdoses kill more than 38,000 Americans each year, and 22,000 of those deaths involve prescription drugs.
In states that have been aggressive toward reducing prescription drug abuse, such as Florida, Kentucky, and Washington, the supply of prescription medications available for abuse is diminishing.
When people who abuse medications can no longer access prescription drugs, they typically have two options: 1) obtain treatment, or 2) consume illicit substances, such as heroin. Heroin use is on the rise across the nation.
Effective interventions are necessary to help individuals with substance use disorders obtain treatment. Testing for substance use enables health care providers to know when to intervene and refer to treatment.
The Miami Herald reported last week that the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will soon implement a policy that denies coverage for tests commonly used to identify substance use.
In response to the policy, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, a Republican, and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat, issued letters to CMS urging the agency, in Bondi's words, not "to restrict access to one of the most critical tools used in identifying drug misuse and abuse" and to "consider alternative, less drastic measures," as Conway put it.
CLAAD thanks General Bondi and General Conway for their bipartisan leadership to preserve the ability of health care providers to test for substance use, intervene, and refer patients to treatment when necessary.
CLAAD echoes and reiterates General Bondi and General Conway's calls for CMS to rescind its policy of denying coverage for diagnostic testing for substance use.
CLAAD is a national leader in identifying and advancing policies to reduce prescription drug abuse. Since 2009, the organization has recommended non-punitive testing for substance use as a way to help individuals with substance-related disorders access treatment. CLAAD's most recent position statement on testing for substance use may be found on its website, claad.org.
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