Opioid Bills Progress Through House and Senate

The opioid stewardship bill, which would provide needed funding for programs to address opioid addiction and the problems caused by the crisis, is working its way through House and Senate committees.  

While there is strong support for this new funding, the fight is over how to provide the funds. As introduced, the bill included a fee on opioid manufacturers of “one cent per morphine equivalent milligram of opiates sold in the state.”

The House version has been amended to fund these programs with a $20 million General Fund appropriation for 2018, and an ongoing $15 million each year in the future.

The Senate version maintains the fee on manufacturers as well as increases the licensing fees for opioid distributors. The MMA testified in support of the bill in committee on March 20, but opposes two provisions contained within the Senate version (SF 730): a strict seven-day limit on opioid prescriptions used for acute pain and a mandate check the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) prior to writing any opioid prescriptions that is for more than a three-day supply. 

The MMA cautioned the committee to ever pass strict practice standards in law on how to treat any condition. Instead, the MMA encouraged them to include a provision to allow for physicians to use their best judgement.  The MMA also argued that while the PMP is an important and helpful tool, it is not an easy tool to use.  If the use of the PMP is mandated, the implementation should be delayed until the PMP is embedded into the EHR. 

In a separate bill (HF 3019/SF 3323), the seven-day limit on prescribing opioids for treatment of acute pain includes the exemption for professional judgment. This version treats the limit more as a guideline than a mandatory practice standard. The House bill was heard but no action was taken. The Senate version was heard on March 22.