OMAHA, NE, AUGUST 31ST – Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts’ visit to Omaha’s Midwest Pain Clinic could prove useful towards tackling the opioid epidemic. During this visit, the Governor, his staff, and the physicians and staff at Midwest Pain Clinics held important discussions on how interventional pain techniques can make a difference in the Omaha and broader Nebraska communities. Topics included ensuring access to proven treatments to diagnose and treat the source of pain rather than masking symptoms with medication and avoiding costly and often ineffective surgeries.
The physicians at Midwest Pain have witnessed firsthand the obstacles patients face when seeking proven treatment that may be covered by insurers under certain plans and policies but not others, even though the short-term and long-term benefit to the patient is proven and
significant, representing an overall cost savings to the healthcare system.
Dr Kevin Balter states, ‘there are so many treatments available to patients that can help fix the source of their pain and it can be frustrating when certain payors, such as Medicaid, don’t make these treatments available even though other insurance companies do.”
There are a wide variety of treatment options used at Midwest Pain Clinics including procedures like neuromodulation, radio frequency ablation and lesioning, and sacroiliac joint fusions that are approved by many but not all insurance carriers. While many insurance companies cover these proven treatments, Medicaid currently presents obstacles to approving these interventions, thus leading patients to turn to potentially less effective and more addictive options. In addition to the ethical imperative, these approvals would prove financially beneficial to the Medicaid program and the state by getting patients back to living a pain free life means getting patients off disability and back to work.
The opioid epidemic has thrived by making medication the only option. Physicians at Midwest Pain know each person’s road to recovery looks different, and they strive to implement individualized plans. Insisting patients go through a pain management assessment helps gauge the patient’s likeliness of restoring function and their ability to return to work.
Governor Pete Rickett’s visit was a huge step in fighting against the opioid epidemic. Private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid are important pieces of the puzzle in this battle, and all would benefit from expanding coverage for proven, interventional procedures at sustainable reimbursement rates.