Assembly bars life insurers from denying coverage due to naloxone prescription
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly has approved legislation sponsored by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Rep. Justine Caldwell to remove a barrier to accessing lifesaving anti-overdose medication. The bill will now head to the governor’s desk.
The bill (2019-S 0799Aaa, 2019-H 6184Aaa) addresses a situation experienced by some individuals who obtained naloxone in Rhode Island, then had trouble getting life insurance. Rhode Island has an open prescription for naloxone, meaning any person can obtain the medication at a pharmacy. Naloxone, which is also known by the trade name Narcan, rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.
“We as a state should be encouraging anyone who may come in contact with overdose victims to have Narcan accessible. That’s the reason we make it available to all,” said President Ruggerio (D-Dist. 4, North Providence, Providence). “Individuals who work in health care, public safety, and other fields may want to have Narcan easily accessible in case there is a need for it, as might individuals who have a friend or family member struggling with an opioid addiction.”
The legislation provides that, if an individual were denied life insurance on the sole basis that he or she had filled a prescription for naloxone, the insurer shall reopen the application and underwriting process for consideration of coverage and the life insurance company shall be deemed to have provided coverage to the eligible person retroactive to the date of the initial application.
“Merely being in possession of naloxone doesn’t make any person an insurance risk. Our state’s open prescription is meant to encourage family, friends and anyone who thinks they might need it to save someone’s life to acquire this life-saving drug. Those individuals are preventing loss of life, and the last thing they deserve is to be penalized by insurers who probably owe them a debt of gratitude,” said Representative Caldwell (D-Dist. 30, East Greenwich, West Greenwich).
More than 200 Rhode Islanders have died due to accidental drug overdose in each of the last six years, and more than 300 have died each of the last three years, according to data published by the Rhode Island Department of Health.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903