(March 13) – Three bills that are part of the House Democrats’ effort to combat the epidemic of opioid addiction in Colorado began their journey through the legislative process today, winning broad bipartisan support.

“I’m proud to support measures that will give thousands of Colorado families more opportunities to fight for their lives against this crushing epidemic,” Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, said tonight after the House Public Health Care & Human Services committee passed:

  • HB18-1003, Rep. Pettersen’s bill to create a committee to study the substance use disorder problem in Colorado, identify the gaps in resources available to Coloradans and recommend legislative options. The bill, which also increases provider training, is headed to the Appropriations Committee on a 9-2 vote.
  • HB18-1007, by Reps. Chris Kennedy, D-Lakewood, and Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont, to require insurance companies and Medicaid to provide faster approval of medication-assisted treatment so patients with substance use disorders don’t go back to opioids while waiting for approval to begin their treatment. The vote was 9-1 and the bill is headed to the House floor.
  • HB18-1136, Rep. Pettersen’s bill to add extended residential and inpatient substance abuse treatment to the Medicaid program, mostly by drawing down federal funds. Currently, most coverage ends after three days, when the risk of readdiction is still very high. The bill passed 8-3 and is also headed to the House floor.

One of those testifying today was Rep. Pettersen’s mother, Stacy Pettersen, whose mismanaged back injury plunged her into a 30-year struggle with substance addiction.

“I went from being a dedicated and loving mother of four with a career I loved to someone whose life became focused on feeding my addiction at the expense of everything else,” she told the committee. “I am alive, and have been sober for over seven months, because I finally got the help I needed.”

Also moving through the legislative process are two other bills endorsed in 2017 by the bipartisan, bicameral Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee: SB18-022, sponsored in the House by Reps. Pettersen and Kennedy, which limits most opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply and tightens requirements before writing prescription refills; and the Singer-sponsored SB18-024, which invests in bringing more behavioral health care providers to under- or unserved areas.

 

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