Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed into law today a package of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid overdose crisis. The bill signing was held at Bridgemark Addiction Recovery Services in Warwick.

Legislators worked in conjunction with the governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force to craft the bills, which are meant to take a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention as well as making treatment more available and accessible.

“The opioid crisis is not simple, so we need a comprehensive approach to address it. With these bills, we aim to prevent addiction by more carefully controlling and monitoring drugs as they are prescribed and dispensed. We’ve also improved coverage for treatment and made follow-up care more diligent for those who suffer from addiction. There’s not going to be one silver bullet that eliminates opioid addiction. But by addressing the ways it could be avoided and the myriad of difficulties people face when they become addicted, we’ve made a lot of changes that, together, can make a difference for many Rhode Islanders,” said Sen. Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), chairman of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee and sponsor of several of the bills.

Said Rep. David A. Bennett (D-Dist. 20, Warwick, Cranston), who works as a psychiatric nurse, “We must attack the opioid epidemic from every angle to stop the damage and loss of life it is causing in Rhode Island and the region. We’ve passed a well-rounded package of legislation that will take aim at opioids by helping those who’ve already been affected by them, and taking concrete steps to prevent people from getting hooked in the first place.”

The governor signed the following bills:

  • 2016-S 2356Aaa, 2016-H 7616A — This bill, the Alexander C. Perry and Brandon Goldner Act,  sponsored by Chairman Miller and Representative Bennett, aims to ensure that those who are treated at hospitals, clinics and urgent care facilities with a substance-abuse disorder receive the appropriate care, intervention by recovery coaches and follow-up care they need to address their addiction.  It requires comprehensive discharge planning for patients treated for substance use disorders and requires insurers to cover medication-assisted addiction treatment including methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone. The legislation builds upon legislation passed in 2014 (2014-S 2801Aaa), which required facilities to give patients information about where they could get help upon their discharge. The bill is named for two individuals who died of overdoses during development of this act, and whose circumstances affected its development.
  • 2016-S 2460Aaa , 2016-H 7710A — Also sponsored by Chairman Miller and Representative Bennett, this bill requires all health insurance providers that provide prescription coverage for opioid antagonists (overdose preventive medicine) to also cover them when purchased by a family member or friend to save the life of an overdose victim. These relatively inexpensive medicines reverse the effects of overdoses of opiates, including heroin and many commonly abused prescription painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin. They generally have no adverse effects if given to someone who is not overdosing, and are easily administered as either a nasal spray or an injection that can be delivered even through clothing.
  • 2016-S 2823Aaa, 2016-H 8224A — This bill sponsored by Representative Bennett and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) establishes prescribing limits for addictive pain medication when initially prescribed for acute pain. It also requires full use of the state’s prescription drug monitoring system to help prevent abuse.
  • 2016-S  2874, 2016-H 7849 — This bill sponsored by Representative Bennett and Sen. Elizabeth A. Crowley (D-Dist. 16, Central Falls, Pawtucket) allows for electronic system data transmission of Schedule V prescriptions.
  • 2016-S 2948, 2016-H 7130 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Roger A. Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D-Dist. 4, Providence) allows licensed chemical dependency professionals with the proper training and supervision to use auricular Acudetox as a method of treatment for chemical dependencies. Acudetox is an alternative therapy to pharmaceuticals, and the treatment consists of five sterile needles placed into specific sites on the ear.
  • 2016-S 2946A, 2016-H 8326 — Sponsored by Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-Dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Rep. Deborah A. Fellela (D-Dist. 43, Johnston), this bill improves the usefulness and value of the prescription drug monitoring database program by adding analytical functions, and allowing pharmacists to see all prescriptions for a patient. It will also help detect abhorrent prescribing/dispensing patterns.
  • 2016-S 2897, 2016-H 7847 — This bill sponsored by Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence) and Rep. Joseph M. McNamara (D-Dist. 19, Warwick, Cranston) authorizes any vendor, agent, contractor or designee who operates an electronic medical health record (EMR) or clinical management system to access the prescription drug monitoring program.
  • 2016-S 2579B, 2016-H 8056A — Sponsored by Sen. Erin Lynch Prata (D-Dist. 31, Warwick, Cranston) and Rep. Stephen M. Casey (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket), this bill authorizes the Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals to certify recovery housing facilities and programs for residential substance abuse treatment.