AANA Joins Bipartisan Congressional Movement to Expand Use of Non-Opioid Pain Management

The COVID-19 pandemic captured much of the nation’s attention during the past year while America’s other epidemic, opioid addiction, continued to damage communities. To help increase access to the availability of non-opioid pain management treatments, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists (AANA) supports the recent introduction of the Non-Opioids Prevent Addiction in the Nation (NOPAIN) Act introduced by U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL), along with Reps. David McKinley (R-WV), Ann Kuster (D-NH), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA). The Senate version of this legislation (S. 589) was previously introduced.

The NOPAIN Act (H.R. 3259) would address payment disincentives for practitioners to prescribe non-opioid treatment alternatives in surgical settings by requiring the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to place non-opioid treatments on par with other separately paid drugs and devices in Medicare Part B.

“As anesthesia experts, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) are uniquely qualified to help alleviate the opioid crisis by using non-opioid and opioid-sparing anesthetic techniques and by partnering with other healthcare professionals to provide a holistic approach to patient care,” AANA President Steven M. Sertich, CRNA, MAE, JD, Esquire, said. “This bipartisan legislation will help increase access to non-addictive therapies and can lead not only to less addiction, but can also decrease post-operative complications.”

Non-opioid approaches are also optimal for individuals in recovery from substance use disorder, to assist in supporting their sustained recovery. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids cause the majority of drug overdose deaths in the United States, accounting for 70% of the total drug overdoses in 2019.

Many CRNAs employ Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®), a patient-centered, evidence-based, pain management strategy that reduces the need for opioids, improves patient outcomes, accelerates recovery, and reduces healthcare costs. ERAS engages the patient to optimize their health prior to surgery and includes use of multimodal and opioid-sparing techniques such as regional anesthesia, peripheral nerve blocks, non-pharmacologic approaches, and non-opioid medications to proactively manage postoperative complications, such as nausea and vomiting, thus facilitating a quicker recovery.

“ERAS supports collaborative pain care between the patient, the CRNA, and the entire healthcare team,” said Sertich. “It encourages patients to play an active role by expressing their own needs and concerns and helps them establish realistic goals for improved well-being and quality of life without potential post-surgical dependence on opioids.”

Advanced practice registered nurses such as CRNAs are members of one of the most trusted professions according to Gallup. CRNAs provide anesthesia care across all settings and in all patient populations and are the primary anesthesia providers in rural and underserved areas and on the battlefield in forward surgical teams.

(Press release provided by AANA)