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Bucshon anti-opioid bill targets Medicare patients, senior citizens

After forty years in medicine, Dr. Francis McDonnell has seen it all.

“I have gone from where we were not prescribing adequate opioids to where we've come to prescribing excess opioids,” said McDonnell.

More than 40 percent of McDonnell's patients, over the age of 65, have too.

“These patients are older, they tend to have multiple problems, such as osteoporosis, collapsed backs, injuries from living life through age 65, and it continues chronic pain. What pain medicine, in addition to other modes of treatment allows them to do is to live their life,” said McDonnell.

McDonnell says living life for his patients could become more difficult if Congressman Bucshon's bill, pushing to limit opioid prescriptions for Medicare patients, passes.

McDonnell says he doesn't think senior citizens are the problem when it comes to the opioid epidemic.

The bill, pushes doctors to explore alternatives for opioids, and would require doctors to screen for opioid use, possible potential for abuse, while also referring any seniors enrolling in Medicare to a pain specialist, who would discuss non -opioid treatments.

McDonnell says he doesn't believe many Medicare patients can afford other options, as many are not covered by their insurance.

“That's what we've always done with chronic pain, is use all the methods available to you, but many of them are not paid for by Medicare,” said McDonnell.

With the push back against opioids, some are looking elsewhere altogether.

“We're seeing it from a lot of family practitioners, were seeing it even from some pain clinics here in town, people sending them this way just because they don't want to prescribe the opioids,” said Jordan Fink, of Adele's Naturally in Evansville.

Thinking outside of the box, trying natural remedies for pain management, like CBD oil, is making all the difference for some.

“This has really been a life saver for me, because now I'm able to get out and do more,” said Adele's Naturally customer Cheryl Meyer.

Meyer has been taking CBD oil for three months for her chronic pain.

But McDonnell says over the last forty years, he's learned what works for some, doesn't always work for all.

“That should be between the individual physician and the patient,” said McDonnell.

For more information on Congressman Bucshon's bill, click here.


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