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Limits to opioid prescriptions could hurt patients in Florida

Lawmakers have been considering limiting the number of opioids people could get, even by prescription, which could help reduce the shock of the opioid crisis. However, that does pose some problems for people with chronic pain who need their medications each month.

Despite that, the Agency for Health Care Administration announced that prescriptions for narcotics would be limited to a seven-day supply when purchased through the Medicaid program. Medicaid won't require prior authorization for some medication-assisted treatments, in exchange, which could help those attempting to fight opioid addiction. One of the treatments it no longer requires prior authorization to obtain is a monthly shot of Vivitrol, a drug that helps individuals overcome opioid addiction.

The changes are designed to help prevent and treat opioid dependence and abuse. To put it into perspective, narcotics can cause overdoses. Oxycodone, a widely prescribed opioid, resulted in around 723 deaths in 2016. Hydrocodone led to around 245. Those deaths, combined with other opioid-related overdose deaths, led to a state of emergency in Florida.

One good thing about the new Medicaid limits is that doctors have the option to exempt a patient from the limit if it's medically necessary. There isn't a limit on the number of medically necessary prescriptions, which allows those who need medications to get them.

As someone who needs these medications to maintain your pain levels, these changes could be good or hurt you, depending on your medical provider and insurance coverage. Know your rights, and if you're accused of using drugs without a prescription, be ready to defend yourself. You need your medications, and you shouldn't be treated like a criminal.

Source: Palm Beach Post, "Florida Medicaid program limits opioid prescriptions," Christine Sexton, Feb. 20, 2018

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