The Bills We Need to Get to Gov. Wolf’s Desk to Curb the Opioid Epidemic
By: Nate Spade, Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs and Meg Snead, Senior Policy Analyst
September 29, 2016
Yesterday, Governor Wolf addressed a Joint Session of the General Assembly to outline our collective plan to lead the nation in combatting the opioid and heroin crisis facing Pennsylvania.
Watch the supercut of Governor Wolf’s address to a Joint Session on Pennsylvania’s opioid crisis.
In order to stem the tide of opioid abuse and make progress for those suffering from the disease of addiction and their loved ones, we must work quickly and efficiently to pass bills to send to Governor Wolf’s desk. During the governor’s address, Governor Wolf said that he hopes to pass legislation that will strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, improve and increase education about opioid use disorder, limit opioid prescriptions to emergency room patients and minors, require insurance companies to cover abuse deterrent opioids, and establish a voluntary directive if they do not want to be prescribed opioids.
Below are a number of specific pieces of legislation that would help to accomplish these goals:
Strengthen the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
SB1202 (Yaw) HB1805 (Masser): The Governor’s Office has been working with the legislature to explore strengthening the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Database (PDMP) by amending Act 191 of 2014. This would likely be accomplished by amending one of these bills. The amendment would require prescribers to check the PDMP every time they prescribe an opioid and other controlled substances. Current law only requires prescribers to check the PDMP the first time they prescribe an opioid or other controlled substances or if they suspect a patient of suffering from the disease of addiction. In addition, the Administration’s amendment would require dispensers to input prescription data to the PDMP within 24 hours of dispensing. Current law gives dispensers (who are required to enter information into the PDMP when they dispense an opioid or other controlled substance) 72 hours to log in and enter information. The underlying bills require continuing education in pain management and dispensing and prescribing practices of opioids for prescribers and dispensers.
Both bills have passed their respective chambers and are in committee in the House or Senate. One of these bills will be the vehicle for the Administration’s ABC-MAP amendment requiring the mandatory query of the PDMP.
Improve and Increase Education
SB1368 (Killion): This bill requires that schools that educate opioid prescribers must implement a safe opioid prescribing curriculum in medical colleges and other medical training facilities offering or desiring to offer medical training. The curriculum must include: current, age-appropriate information relating to pain management; alternatives to opioid pain medications; instructions on safe prescribing methods in the event opioids must be prescribed; identification of patients who are at risk for addiction; and, training on managing substance use disorders as chronic diseases. This bill passed unanimously in the Senate on 9/28/16.
SB 1212 (Wozniak), HB2333 (Gainey): Amend the Public School Code to require public and charter schools to offer a certain number of hours of education related to opioid abuse. SB1212 passed unanimously in the Senate on 9/28/16. HB 2333 is in the House Education Committee.
Limit Opioid Prescriptions to Emergency Room Patients and Minors
HB1699 (Brown): This bill mandates that hospital emergency departments and urgent care centers may not prescribe opioids in quantities that last more than seven days and they may not refill prescriptions that have been lost, stolen, or destroyed. This bill passed the House (174-19) on 6/23/16 and has been referred to the Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee.
SB1367 (Yaw): This bill amends Title 35 (Health and Safety) to establish restrictions on a physicans’ ability to prescribe opioids to minors, including limiting prescriptions to seven days and requiring physicians to take a number of steps before issuing the first prescription in a single course of treatment. This bill passed unanimously in the Senate on 9/28/16.
Insurance Coverage for Abuse Deterrent Opioids
HB1698 (Heffley) – This bill requires health insurance plans and carriers to provide access to abuse deterrent opioids. This bill passed the House (190-3) and has been referred to Senate Banking and Insurance.
Establish a Voluntary Directive
HB 2335 (Gainey): Require DOH to develop and publish a uniform voluntary non-opioid directive form, which could be used by a patient to deny or refuse the administration or prescribing of an opioid drug by a practitioner. This bill is in the House Health Committee.
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