What Congress is prepared to do on “the opioid crisis” is akin to treating a brain tumor by amputating the patient’s toe. It’s a double travesty, because legislators are ignoring the dangerous problem that does exist while needlessly creating another danger in order to cover up the true problem.
How can you solve a problem you fail to properly define? That is the questions policy-makers in Washington refuse to ask as they treat an illicit drug problem driven by open borders and exacerbated by Medicaid expansion by restricting prescriptions and cutting off painkillers in hospitals. Now there are shortages of morphine in hospitals, and the Justice Department is attempting to further cut down on the supply of prescription drugs at a time when they are already severely restricted. It was announced last week that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) will take further actions to limit the manufacturing of oxycodone-based painkillers. The new rule gives tremendous arbitrary power to this agency to play judge, jury, and executioner over pain medicine – all because our politicians don’t want to deport all of the criminal alien drug smugglers poisoning our people with fentanyl, heroin, meth, and cocaine.
Yesterday, the Senate HELP Committee passed a package of 40 bills growing government, expanding surveillance of doctors and patients, and throwing endless sums of money at a completely misdiagnosed problem.
Stop calling it an “opioid” crisis
Here’s the big lie: Supply and prescriptions of oxycodone were already severely restricted before the epidemic levels of drug overdose death took off in 2013. Now, according to a new study by IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science, a health data firm, prescriptions of opioids have dropped by the largest percentage in 25 years. Just in 2017, opioid prescriptions dropped by 10.2 percent, while high-dose prescriptions plummeted 16.1 percent after dropping sharply in 2016 as well. That essentially wipes out the entire baseline increase of opioid prescriptions over the past 15 years. Overdoses should be at 15-year lows, right?
Wrong! Drug deaths are at record highs since 2013 exclusively because of illicit drugs – opioids (heroin, fentanyl) and non-opioids (meth and cocaine). It’s all being driven by a record supply from the border, MS-13 gangs, sanctuary cities, and the growth of criminal alien cartel distributors that we can’t throw out of this country thanks to judicial amnesty. It’s all a border problem or a law enforcement problem, not a health care problem.
There are some signs in the state-level data that in recent months the heroin and fentanyl deaths may finally have peaked, but with a new border surge, expect those numbers to climb. Plus, meth and cocaine deaths, which aren’t even opioid-based, are skyrocketing.
A recent AL.com article describing the latest trend in Alabama says it all. “Heroin and fentanyl deaths saw a small decline, while methamphetamine and cocaine deaths climbed. There was a significant decrease in prescription opioid deaths.”
Remember, Alabama has the highest rate of prescriptions in the entire country! Yet the state has a low rate of prescription deaths, and they are getting lower. Heroin and fentanyl are the main problems but are finally peaking. And cocaine and meth are now surging. Yes, this is a Mexican drug cartel problem, not a problem with your doctor.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported this week that in Ohio, one of the worst-hit states by the epidemic, just 14 percent of overdose deaths were due to prescription drugs, the lowest proportion since 2009. And as we’ve noted before, many of those deaths are reported on toxicology reports as prescription-related, even though they were often illicit drug abusers who mixed illicit drugs, sleeping pills, and alcohol with the prescriptions.
It’s no surprise that the biggest increase in drug overdoses is young people. Moreover, men are overwhelmingly overrepresented among the overdose deaths, even though women are much more likely to suffer from chronic pain, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.
So what does Congress plan to do? Not deal with sanctuary cities or the border and judicial amnesty. They are preventing us from immediately deporting every criminal alien, a strategy that would devastate the primary distribution network, composed almost solely of foreign nationals. They plan to further restrict prescription pain medicine for legitimate pain patients who aren’t drug addicts!
Congress needs to head in the opposite direction – stop the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from cutting off prescriptions, stop the DEA from cutting off manufacturing, and then focus like a laser beam on sanctuaries, criminal aliens, and border security.
Most DC politicians are looking in all the wrong places to find the root causes of our heroin/fentanyl crisis. All it takes to really understand it is a basic grasp of supply & demand and an honest look at where the supply comes from. I spoke with @RepKenBuck to get the details. pic.twitter.com/MrKBt0VLdS
— Nate Madden (@NateMaddenCRTV) April 18, 2018
This is only the tip of the iceberg of state-controlled medicine
In 2016, the CDC produced a guideline to limit the duration and dosage of prescriptions. That guidance was a political move based on zero scientific data, yet it is now being used as a standard by states, federal programs, and insurance companies. The abrupt cutoff for existing long-term chronic pain patients has been devastating. Those already prone to abusing drugs are now abusing illicit drugs. Now government is taking stable pain patients and either forcing them into unimaginable pain, suicide, or possibly into the dark world of heroin.
A list of 180 medical professionals recently wrote a letter to the CMS urging it to rescind the proposed Medicare rule, which would dramatically and abruptly cut off funding for prescription pain medicine for 1.5 million patients. VA facilities have already seen between a 30 and 66 percent drop in prescriptions from 2012-2016 – the entire duration of the overdose crisis! Why make the problem worse while ignoring the root cause? Why strengthen surveillance programs that intimidate doctors without first studying the ill effects of the government solutions and how they caused the epidemic in the first place?
With government now controlling the flow of most health care dollars and using that control to cut off pain medication and the supply of morphine in hospitals, we are starting to get the idea of what government health care looks like. And remember, if they are willing to keep patients in excruciating pain in order to cover for the open-borders drug smuggling agenda, they are willing to let people die as well.
It’s time for the citizenry to rise up and oppose the entire “opioid” agenda from the politicians and demand that they let MDs practice medicine while using their power to focus on their real job – protecting America’s sovereignty and security from transnational cartels and gangs.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.