March 28, 2019
The American Association of People with Disabilities is concerned by a recent proposal from Senators Kristen Gillibrand and Cory Gardner to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to seven days. Many people with disabilities have significant pain management needs, and these limitations would pose a serious obstacle to the ability of these individuals to survive and thrive in the mainstream of community life.
While the proposal indicates it will be limited to those with acute pain, our prior experience suggests that such practices are rarely effective at distinguishing between those with acute and chronic pain management needs. By imposing additional gatekeeping on necessary medication, people with disabilities will suffer unnecessarily. What’s more, the data suggests that this is not the driving force behind opioid addiction. CDC data shows a drop in opioid prescribing of nearly three-fourths since 2015, and the number of prescriptions dispensed at retail pharmacies has hit a 15-year low. While we take seriously the need to respond to the opioid addiction crisis, we believe that this is not the way to do so and urge our allies in Congress to focus their attention on more calibrated solutions rooted in evidence-based practices designed to better meet the needs of people with disabilities of all kinds, whether they are experiencing chronic pain or a substance abuse problem.
We believe that the needs of people with chronic pain and the needs of people with substance abuse problems can both be addressed, and recognize both of them as valued members of the disability community. As such, AAPD supports other measures of addressing opioid addiction, like medication assisted treatment, rather than ill-advised restrictions on access to prescriptions for those who need them.
We urge Senators Gillibrand and Gardner to consider another path and stand ready to support any member of Congress interested in addressing the needs of all parts of the disability community, including individuals with chronic pain.
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The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) is a convener, connector, and catalyst for change, increasing the political and economic power of people with disabilities. As a national cross-disability rights organization, AAPD advocates for full civil rights for the over 60 million Americans with disabilities by advancing equal opportunity, economic power, independent living, and political participation.