Opioids Stewardship Bill Approved by Gov. Walz

It took weeks to work out an agreement but the Senate (60-3) and House (109-25) finally passed a bill that positions Minnesota as a leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic. Both bodies passed the opioid stewardship bill on the last day of the session and sent it to Gov. Tim Walz, who signed it on May 22. 

The bill creates an opioid epidemic response account that will be funded at the amount of $20 million per year by a combination of sharply increased registration fees paid by drug manufacturers and wholesalers, and any settlement money received by the state in a national lawsuit with drug manufacturers. 

The fees will be slightly decreased once the state brings in $250 million through the registration fees, the settlement money or a combination of both. The earliest this can happen, though, is July 1, 2024. 

Revenue raised will be used to expand treatment services, fund education for consumers and prescribers, support education efforts regarding opioid abuse, addiction, and overdose, and help offset the escalating cost of opioid abuse absorbed by county and tribal child protective services.  

The bill also: 
•    Creates a 19-member advisory council, including a spot for an MMA-appointed member, to develop and implement a comprehensive and effective statewide effort to address the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic in Minnesota.  
•    Mandates that prescribers must complete two hours of CME about best practices in opioid prescribing and non-pharmacologic treatment for pain. This provision sunsets Jan. 1, 2023. Prescribers who provide care to Minnesotans on public health care programs and participate in DHS’s Opioid Prescribing Improvement Program are not subject to the CME requirement.
•    Includes a seven-day limit on the number of opioids that can be prescribed to an adult (five for minors) for acute pain treatment. This provision allows physicians to deviate from the dose limit if it is in their professional, clinical judgement. 
•    Requires that prescribers check the Prescription Monitoring Program before prescribing controlled substances for the first time and at least every three months for chronic pain sufferers. Several exceptions, including post-surgical pain, hospice, cancer-related pain, and other instances are included.  
•    Allows patients to declare on their health care directive or on their medical record that they do not want to be prescribed opioids
•    Allots $200,000 a year to Hennepin Healthcare and CHI St. Gabriel’s in Little Falls for their participation in Project ECHO that addresses the opioid epidemic. It also allots the Steve Rummler Hope Network $100,000 for its continued work on the crisis.