(Oct. 31) – The legislative Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee voted today to move forward with a six-bill package of legislation that seeks to prevent opioid addictions, intervene early when possible and make sure people seeking help are able to get the help they need.

Today’s votes, with strong bipartisan support, put the six bills into the pipeline for consideration during the 2018 legislative session. Included are bills to:

  • Create training programs for health professionals, law enforcement, and at-risk communities for safe opioid prescribing, medication assisted treatment, and overdose prevention.
  • Limit most opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply for acute conditions and mandate that medical professionals check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program database before writing prescription refills.
  • Create a pilot project for a supervised injection facility in Denver. Like needle-exchange programs, data show that SIFs do not increase the use of illicit drugs, but do reduce the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C while increasing referrals to medical and/or substance abuse treatment.
  • Expand the Colorado Health Service Corps program, which includes loan repayment and scholarship programs for medical professionals who commit to working in underserved areas where substance abuse is more likely to go untreated.
  • Significantly increasing access to residential treatment to qualifying individuals with substance use disorders.
  • Improve “prior authorization” standards to ensure that insurance companies and Medicaid give timely approval for medication-assisted treatment so patients with substance use disorders don’t go back to opioids while waiting for approval to begin their treatment. The bill also makes sure pharmacists are able to administer certain kinds of medication-assisted treatments and reduces copays for physical therapy, acupuncture and chiropractic alternatives to narcotics. 

Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, the interim committee’s chairwoman, noted the five committee hearings, three task force meetings and numerous stakeholder meetings that produced bipartisan consensus around the six bills.

“All of us know somebody affected by addiction; I had no idea how broken our system was until my mom was begging for help and there were no options available for her,” said Rep. Pettersen. “I am incredibly proud of the bipartisan work we have done through this interim committee to lay a foundation for addressing this epidemic, and to close the gaps faced by people who are trying to move toward recovery.”

“We are making meaningful steps forward to prevent opioid addiction and facilitate access to treatment,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy, who also sits on the interim committee. “But this is just the beginning, and we’ll continue working hard on this issue for many years.”

“I’m proud of how Democrats and Republicans put politics and personalities aside to do the right thing for everyday Coloradans struggling with addiction,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, who also sits on the interim committee.

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