Creating System Level Policy Change

Oregon: Collaborating to Address People's Pain and Eliminate the Opioid Epidemic

Back pain is a condition that affects millions of Americans.  Conventional treatment approaches included in national and state level pain strategies for back pain consist of prescription of pain medication, bed rest and costly surgeries. Each of these are limited or problematic for many patients. The Oregon Health Plan (OHP) has spent a great deal of public dollars on treatments such as surgery and medications, without good evidence that they improve patient’s lives and medication used for back pain can lead to abuse and addiction.  The U.S., and Oregon especially, face issues of opioid abuse and addiction which is also known to lead to the abuse of illegal drugs such as heroin.

The Oregon Health Authority has taken an innovative approach to helping people with their pain while aiming to reduce the opioid epidemic. Beginning July 1, 2016, OHP (Oregon's Medicaid program) will be covering acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, cognitive behavioral therapy, osteopathic manipulation, physical and occupational therapy and office visits. In addition, yoga, intensive rehabilitation, massage and/or supervised exercise therapy are recommended to be included in the comprehensive treatment plans.

The Oregon Collaborative for Integrative Medicine (OCIM) is working to bring together numerous organizations across Oregon to ensure this policy is implemented effectively in order to address this deeply entrenched and complex bio-psycho-social issue.  Stay tuned for additional details about our efforts.