Letter: Opioid legislation could endanger patient access
To the editor:
Health care is undoubtedly the No. 1 concern for Minnesota residents. We're worried about our coverage, affordability and accessibility — all of which were major focuses during the election. So, it's concerning that there is renewed interest in a legislative proposal that could disrupt our health care system, increase costs and jeopardize access to care. A surcharge on the distribution of all prescription opioids could seriously endanger patient access while also weighing down a health care system that is already struggling to properly meet the needs of its patients in an affordable manner.
The chronic pain community provides support for those suffering at the hands of the health care system, many of which are patients who responsibly use prescription opioids as part of their physician-guided treatment regimen. Efforts to curb the use of these crucial medications, such as taxes and fees on the distribution of medicine, are dangerous for the chronic pain community. Assessments would also entirely fail to address true causes of today's opioid epidemic: illicit drugs such as fentanyl, heroin and synthetics.
At best, consideration of this legislation was an admission of misunderstanding on the part of our state Legislature. At worst, it was political posturing. As serious as the opioid epidemic is in Minnesota, there is absolutely no reason that our state legislators should restrict the distribution of prescription opioids, many times the only effective means to treat chronic pain. The diagnosis of a chronic painful disease is scary enough.