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Victory - Opioid bill Includes Preventive Care Strategy for Teens

Victory - Opioid bill Includes Preventive Care Strategy for Teens

March 24, 2016

Boston Globe headline: Drug bill calls for student screening

Last week Health Care for All stood with policymakers, law enforcement, families, and advocates to watch Governor Baker sign Massachusetts' comprehensive opioid bill into law. It was an emotional yet hopeful moment as the Governor said “May today’s bill passage signal to you that the Commonwealth is listening and we will keep fighting for all of you.”

The new law has several key provisions aimed addressing the opioid epidemic including:

  • Limits on first-time prescriptions for opioid drugs to a seven-day supply, with exceptions for treating cancer or chronic pain.
  • Requiring doctors to check a state Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) each time they prescribe an addictive opioid
  • Establishes civil liability for anyone administering the anti-overdose drug naloxone
  • Allows patients to fill a lesser amount of an opioid prescription.
  • Establishes a drug stewardship program to dispose of unneeded drugs and allows patients to fill a lesser amount of an opioid prescription.
  • Requires that a mental health professional provide a substance abuse evaluation to anyone who enters the emergency room suffering from an opioid overdose within 24 hours

The Children’s Mental Health Campaign, which HCFA helps lead, is proud to have worked hard to make sure prevention is central to the conversation around substance abuse. The campaign worked with Massachusetts State Senator Jennifer Flanagan to include a provision within the legislation that establishes a process for schools to verbally screen students to identify those at risk of drug addiction. This set of tools, called Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT), helps identify alcohol or drug use and guides follow-up counseling and treatment if a problem exists. With adolescents, SBIRT is an effective prevention and early intervention strategy.

HCFA and the Children's Mental Health Campaign will be closely following the implementation of this important strategy to improve the health of children in Massachusetts.

       -- Jamie Gaynes