(Boston) – State Representative Harold P. Naughton, Jr. joined his colleagues in the Massachusetts House of Representatives to pass substance addiction legislation that creates a new standard to evaluate and treat patients who present in emergency rooms with an apparent overdose. This new best practice, which will be covered by insurance, is designed to ensure the proper assessment and discharge of patients who seek voluntary treatment.
The bill limits first-time opiate prescriptions to seven days for adults and all opiate prescriptions for minors to seven days, with exceptions for chronic pain management, cancer, and palliative care. Additionally, practitioners must check the prescription monitoring program (PMP) each time they prescribe any opiate and correspondingly note that in the patient’s medical records.
Prior to the debate, Representative Naughton offered an amendment to include additional measures that would take prescription drugs off the streets. Naughton’s amendment, which was adopted on the floor during the House debate, expands upon the available locations for prescription drug drop boxes. Potential added locations can include community hospitals, local pharmacies, police departments, fire stations and other suitable venues.
“Approximately four people a day lose their life to opioid overdose,” said Representative Naughton. “This is an epidemic that has made its way into every community and neighborhood and leaves families across the Commonwealth devastated. My amendment contributes to the efforts of this legislation by making more prescription drug drop boxes available in cities and towns. It is my hope that with this addition to the legislation, we can encourage and provide an outlet for people to bring remaining unused prescription drugs to a secure drop off location for proper disposal.”
In an effort to build upon current prevention efforts, the legislation updates current law requiring all public schools to have a policy regarding substance abuse education by requiring schools to report their plans to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). DESE will then consult with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to provide recommendations that will assist schools and ensure they are providing effective and up-to-date education. Additional education materials will be provided to all student-athletes.
From its discussions with numerous stakeholders and recovery groups, the House recognizes the importance of empowering individuals as they grapple with addiction. As a result, this bill establishes a non-opiate directive form, allowing patients to include a notation in their records that they shall not be offered opiates. It also requires that patients being discharged from substance addiction programs receive information on all FDA-approved medication-assisted therapies.
Over the past few years, the House’s efforts related to substance addiction have focused on behavioral health and the prevalence of co-occurring disorders. This legislation requires the Health Policy Commission to conduct a study on access to dual-diagnosis treatment in the Commonwealth for children, adolescents and adults. To help ensure parity between behavioral and physical health care, the legislation also requires insurance companies to report annually on their denied claims.
This bill also:
- Requires that contact information for all insurers be posted on the bed-finder tool website and updates the law to ensure the site is available 24 hours a day;
- Ends the practice of sending women who are civilly committed for alcohol or substance-use disorders to MCI-Framingham;
- Ensures civil-liability protection for individuals who administer Narcan;
- Updates the training guidelines for all practitioners who prescribe controlled substances;
- Establishes the Massachusetts Council on Substance Use Disorder Prevention and Treatment, which will help the Commonwealth understand and confront addiction in a unified way.
This legislation follows a 65.2% increase in substance addiction funding since FY12 and the landmark substance addiction law passed in 2014 which, for the first time, mandated detox and stabilization coverage. The two bills are intended to complement each other and reflect a consensus-driven approach.