News & Press: Advocacy

Hope for Patients in Oregon State

Tuesday, February 7, 2017  

After hearing statements on February 2nd from physicians (including SIS members), patients, and experts, the Oregon Health Authority’s (OHA) Evidence-based Guidelines Subcommittee (EbGS) has elected to reconsider its initial ruling, and explore more thoroughly the research that demonstrates lumbar radicular pain relief provided by transforaminal epidural steroid injections.

On July 1, 2016, without awaiting release of the coverage guidance under development by the OHA’s Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC), OHA eliminated coverage for epidural steroid injections, leaving thousands of patients  covered by Oregon Health Plan without access to any interventional spine procedures. Most no longer have access to surgery and none have the option of palliative care with long-term opioid treatment. OHA currently recommends acupuncture, manipulation, massage, medications (excluding long-term opioid treatment), cognitive behavioral therapy, physical therapy/occupational therapy, and yoga as the only viable treatments for back pain. On November 8, 2016, the HERC issued draft coverage guidance strongly recommending against coverage for epidural, facet joint, medial branch, and sacroiliac joint corticosteroid injections for low back pain regardless of etiology.

On December 8, 2016 SIS and 10 other medical society members of the Multisociety Pain Workgroup (MPW) warned about the likely negative consequences from the flawed coverage guidance and inappropriate coverage determination. SIS would like to thank the MPW societies for supporting these procedures and signing-on to several comment letters this past year. 

A special note of gratitude to the physicians and patients who attended the OHA meetings to advocate for access to these invaluable procedures. Your voices were heard and we hope the message you conveyed will be instrumental in regaining access to interventional spine procedures.

SIS remains committed to preserving patient access to safe and effective procedures, and with the support of SIS members, we will continue to advocate for patients and physicians in Oregon State and wherever coverage is threatened.

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