I recently was in the emergency room with severe back pain. The doctor prescribed me an opiate drug along with a non-narcotic pain patch. I decided not to take the opiate and use only the pain patch. I waited about 45 minutes in the car while my husband went into the drugstore to get the pain patch, only to come out and say: “MaineCare won’t cover the patch. It’s too expensive.” So I went home from the E.R. with no pain relief.

When I called and complained to DHHS, they said I could have gotten it with prior authorization. That takes up to 30 days, and I was in the hospital in an acute situation. I was in no condition to make phone calls to DHHS. This is like the worst HMO!

So, the next morning I saw my primary care physician. He praised me for not taking the opiate. He then offered me a muscle relaxant, which I thought was a good idea, until I remembered that MaineCare doesn’t pay for that particular muscle relaxant; they only pay for the cheap on that gives me horrible side effects.

Since I cannot tolerate a lot of medicines, I was out of options. So I reluctantly accepted the opiate.

So, here I am, one individual trying hard not to take an opiate, but MaineCare left me no choice. It was my only option. The state seems to have plenty of money for DEA agents to go after opiate users, but no money for safer alternative drugs. There has to be a better way.

Christine Gavitt

Thorndike