CMA opposes bill that would place unnecessary burdens on physicians treating pain

March 21, 2023

The California Medical Association (CMA) is urging physicians to contact their legislators to ask for a no vote on a bill that would place misguided and unnecessary burdens on physicians trying to prescribe pain management.

AB 1751—sponsored by the California Chiropractic Association—would require physicians to share information on and offer referrals to non-pharmacological treatments for pain and confirm with patient signature that this was done.

While this bill is being represented as an attempt to reduce opioid prescription rates, it creates unnecessary administrative burdens and undermines the judgement and expertise of physicians. This bill also requires a physician to obtain written informed consent from the patient. That informed consent must include a signature from the patient, name, quantity of drug prescribed, and a statement that a conversation about non-pharmacological treatments took place.

AB 1751 also establishes referral requirements without proposed coverage expansions. For many patients, especially those covered by Medi-Cal, opportunities to use those alternatives for pain management may not exist. Medi-Cal is not required to cover all non-pharmacological treatments, meaning much of the patient population in California will not have the ability to utilize the mandated referrals.

Physicians have a strong understanding of the depth of the opioid crisis in California, and this bill does NOT offer changes that would make meaningful differences in opioid prescription rates or in opioid abuse. Instead, it creates additional administrative hoops for physicians to jump through while they are providing patient care and may cause patients to pursue services that are neither accessible nor medically warranted.

AB 1751 is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Health Committee on April 11. Legislators must hear from physicians in their districts now so they understand the issues this bill would pose to the delivery of health care in California.

Click here to urge your legislator to vote no on this misguided bill. (Sample letter is provided.)


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