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Assembly OKs bills aimed at curbing opioid abuse
STATE HOUSE – The General Assembly today gave its approval to a package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid overdose crisis. The bills will now be forwarded to the governor.
Legislators worked in conjunction with the governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force to craft the bills, which are meant to take a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention as well as making treatment more available and accessible.
“One of our ultimate responsibilities as legislators is trying to save and preserve lives and I think, with these bills, that is what we are accomplishing,” said Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), the sponsor of several of the bills.
Said Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), who works as a psychiatric nurse, “We must attack the opioid epidemic from every angle to stop the damage and loss of life it is causing in Rhode Island and the region. We’ve passed a well-rounded package of legislation that will take aim at opioids by helping those who’ve already been affected by them, and taking concrete steps to prevent people from getting hooked in the first place.”
The Assembly has passed and will send to the governor:
— This bill, the Alexander C. Perry and Brandon Goldner Act, sponsored by Chairman Miller and Representative Bennett, aims to ensure that those who are treated at hospitals, clinics and urgent care facilities with a substance-abuse disorder receive the appropriate care, intervention by recovery coaches and follow-up care they need to address their addiction. It would require comprehensive discharge planning for patients treated for substance use disorders and would require insurers to cover medication-assisted addiction treatment including methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The legislation builds upon legislation passed in 2014 (
), which required facilities to give patients information about where they could get help upon their discharge. The bill is named for two individuals who died of overdoses during development of this act, and whose circumstances affected its development.
— Also sponsored by Chairman Miller and Representative Bennett, this bill would require all health insurance providers that provide prescription coverage for opioid antagonists (overdose preventive medicine) to also cover them when purchased by a family member or friend to save the life of an overdose victim. These relatively inexpensive medicines reverse the effects of overdoses of opiates, including heroin and many commonly abused prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. They generally have no adverse effects if given to someone who is not overdosing, and are easily administered as either a nasal spray or an injection that can be delivered even through clothing.
— This bill sponsored by Representative Bennett and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) would establish prescribing limits for addictive pain medication when initially prescribed for acute pain. It also would require full use of the state’s prescription drug monitoring system to help prevent abuse.
— This bill sponsored by Representative Bennett and Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) would allow for electronic system data transmission of Schedule V prescriptions.
— This bill sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) would allow licensed chemical dependency professionals with the proper training and supervision to use auricular Acudetox as a method of treatment for chemical dependencies. Acudetox is an alternative therapy to pharmaceuticals, and the treatment consists of five sterile needles placed into specific sites on the ear.
— Sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), this bill would improve the usefulness and value of the prescription drug monitoring database program by adding analytical functions, and allowing pharmacists to see all prescriptions for a patient. It will also help detect abhorrent prescribing/dispensing patterns.
— This bill sponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) would authorize any vendor, agent, contractor or designee who operates an electronic medical health record (EMR) or clinical management system to access the prescription drug monitoring program.
— Sponsored by Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) and Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), this bill authorizes the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to certify recovery housing facilities and programs for residential substance abuse treatment.
For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
Lt. Governor's Office
Secretary of State
Link to Public Records Request