House Democrats have long been working on solutions to the opioid the opioid crisis

(Apr. 29) – The House gave preliminary approval to a package of bills that are part of the House Democrats’ effort to combat the epidemic of opioid addiction.

The House gave preliminary approval to Rep. Chris Kennedy and Rep. Jonathan Singer’s commonsense bill to examine alternatives to incarceration for individuals who need treatment for addiction instead of jail for drug-related offenses. The bill, a product of the opioid interim committee, also looks to provide behavioral & substance use treatment (MAT) to individuals who may already be incarcerated.

“When we incarcerate people without providing treatment for their substance use disorders, we’re not actually addressing the real problem,” said Rep. Kennedy, D-Lakewood. “By providing treatment, we increase the likelihood that people released from incarceration will be able to rebuild their lives and start contributing to society again.”

“My sincere thanks to counselors, law enforcement and people across the state who came to support this bill. People are literally dying in jail because they are not getting the appropriate treatment for their substance use disorder,” said Rep. Singer, D-Boulder. “This bill provides a pathway that will help those struggling with addiction become productive members of society, not return as burdens to themselves, their families and taxpayers.”

SB19-008 was approved on voice-vote and recorded vote will be taken at a later date.

The House also passed SB19-227, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kennedy and Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver. This bill authorizes schools to obtain a supply of opiate antagonists, specifies that a licensed or certified hospital may be used as a clean syringe exchange site, creates the opiate antagonist purchase fund and expands the household medication take-back program in the Department of Public Health and Environment.

“While we work to reduce overprescription and increase access to treatment, we can also do more to prevent the spread of diseases and save the lives of those who have not yet sought treatment,” said Rep. Chris Kennedy.

“Addiction is a public health crisis and we are stepping up and finding ways to save lives,” said Rep. Leslie Herod. “This bill will expand treatment and recovery options across the state.”

SB19-227 was approved on voice-vote and recorded vote will be taken at a later date.

The House Health and Insurance committee approved Rep. Bri Buentello’s bill to require certain health care providers who have prescriptive authority to complete substance use disorder training as part of their continuing education and prohibits a physician or physician assistant from accepting any direct or indirect benefits for prescribing a specific medication.

“This is an important bill that will help us address the opioid crisis that is devastating parts of Southern Colorado,” said Rep. Buentello, D-Pueblo. “This bill will help Coloradans who are struggling with addiction get the treatment they need.”

SB19-228 also requires a prescription for an opioid for outpatient use to bear a warning label; creates several grant programs to improve public awareness of the dangers of substance use disorders, improve youth treatment and pre-and-postnatal care for women. In addition, the bill introduces several other measures aimed at substance use disorders prevention.

The bill was approved on a vote of 7-4. It now goes to the House Appropriations committee.

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