During a recent hearing, “Preventing and Treating Opioid Misuse among Older Americans,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) highlighted the often-overlooked experiences of older adults with opioid-use disorders and ways to support their recovery.
Casey, ranking member of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, also discussed his recent bipartisan legislation, the Medicare Beneficiary Opioid Addiction Treatment Act (S. 2704), which would enhance
Medicare coverage for methadone, a proven opioid treatment for individuals in recovery.
Opioid use disorders are on the rise among older adults. In Americans ages 50 and older, opioid misuse doubled from 2002 to 2014, as reported by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, 14.4 million people with Medicare received an opioid prescription in 2016.
And, more than 1,400 older adults lost their lives to opioids in 2016 — despite the availability of a lifesaving medication that reverses overdose.
“The opioid crisis is ravaging our communities and harming every generation—from newborn babies to aging grandparents,” said Casey.
“Older Americans are among the unseen victims of this epidemic. We must expand access and affordability to evidence-based treatment and support for all, and we must ensure that those services are affordable.”
William Stauffer, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, testified before the committee at Casey’s invitation. Stauffer is the executive director of Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance, located in Harrisburg, and has been in long-term recovery for more than 30 years.
PRO-A supports a statewide network of more than 40 community-based recovery programs serving more than 3,800 Pennsylvanians affected by substance misuse.
“Supporting access to all medications, treatment, and recovery-support services that can assist an older adult into the recovery process is a critically important first step in assisting adults over 65 accessing care for an opioid-use disorder,” Stauffer said.