America's Opioid Epidemic: Aging & Addiction

The opioid epidemic sweeping across the United States is impacting not just the young. Older Americans battling chronic pain and illness are also at risk.

Government investigators report that in 2016, one out of every three enrollees in Medicare’s prescription drug benefit program received an opioid prescription. Half a million were given higher doses of opioids and nearly 90,000 beneficiaries could be vulnerable to opioid misuse or overdose.

How can we curb the impact of opioid abuse in older adults? What is the role prescribers, policymakers and health officials can play in increasing awareness and exploring alternative solutions to pain management? How can the theft of Medicare identification numbers, diversion of prescriptions and doctor shopping be prevented while maintaining the level of care seniors need?

The Hill convened key stakeholders for a comprehensive conversation about combating opioid misuse and addiction within the older population.


  • Gary Cantrell, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations, Office of Inspector General, HHS
  • Congresswoman Katherine Clark (D-MA), Member, House Committee on Appropriations 
  • Ann Maxwell, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations, Office of Inspector General, HHS
  • Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Member, House Energy and Commerce Committee
  • Kathleen Cameron, MPH, Senior Director, Center for Healthy Aging, National Council on Aging
  • Andrew Kolodny, M.D., Co-Director, Opioid Policy Research Collaborative, Brandeis University
  • Steve Miller, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, Express Scripts 
  • Cynthia Reilly, Director, Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Initiative, The Pew Charitable Trusts
  • Tom Skelton, Chief Executive Officer, Surescripts


  • Bob Cusack, Editor-in-Chief, The Hill
  • Rachel Roubein, Health Care Reporter, The Hill 

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