Caldier releases statement regarding Health Care Authority’s new policy limiting opioid prescriptions to Medicaid enrollees

Earlier this week, the Washington State Health Care Authority (HCA) sent an email to legislators announcing it would be changing its policy regarding the prescription of opiates to Apple Health (Medicaid) clients. Starting Oct. 1, 2017, patients 20 years and younger will be prescribed no more than a three-day supply of prescription opiate medication. Those 21 years and older will be prescribed no more than a seven-day supply.

The HCA says the policy change will not affect patients being treated for cancer or those receiving palliative or end-of-life care. Exceptions will also be made for those receiving treatment for chronic pain.

In a statement, Rep. Michelle Caldier harshly criticized the HCA’s decision.

“This is a deeply irresponsible policy change that will deprive our state’s most vulnerable of adequate post-surgery pain management,” said Caldier, R-Port Orchard. “We absolutely need to solve our state’s opioid crisis, but there is no long-term research to suggest setting pill limits will effectively achieve that goal. In fact, this policy could very well result in an increase in the potency of opiate prescriptions in order to accommodate for these new limits. How the HCA can make this policy change without considering the size of the individual, complexity of the surgery or potency of the narcotic is beyond me. I can’t imagine a more thoughtless approach to patient care.”

Caldier was also critical of the HCA’s process in deciding to change its policy.

“This is yet another example of a state agency asserting its rulemaking authority behind closed doors without first receiving buy-in from members of the community. The fact this policy change hasn’t even been publicly announced yet when it goes into effect in just over a month is also problematic. Our state agencies need to make absolutely sure their decisions aren’t going to create unintended consequences that harm the general public. I encourage Washingtonians to contact me and make their voice heard on this issue so I can relay their concerns to the HCA.”


Washington State House Republican Communications