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News & Press: Legislative & Policy Updates

Seven More HOPE Bills Surface

Tuesday, November 12, 2019  
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November 12, Wisconsin Health News

Legislators are asking their colleagues to sponsor seven more bills that are part of a years-long effort to fight the opioid epidemic.

The bills began circulating for co-sponsorship last week.

They’re part of the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Agenda, a series of 30 bipartisan bills that have passed the Legislature.

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, noted that recent data show overdose deaths declining in Wisconsin. He said that they've worked with healthcare professionals, the recovery community and law enforcement on addressing the issue.

“The HOPE Agenda is not a silver bullet solution to our statewide drug epidemic, but I am proud that we are continuing to take steps in the right direction,” Nygren said in a statement.

The bills would:

  • Increase a supplemental appropriation for the Joint Finance Committee by $1 million over the biennium to up Medicaid rates for physical health services, like chiropractic care and physical therapy. The Department of Health Services would have to request the release of the funds from the Joint Finance Committee. The bill also directs DHS to submit a plan to the federal government to create a Medicaid benefit for acupuncture. 
  • Repeal a sunset for current law that grants immunity from prosecution for certain controlled substance crimes and from having probation, parole or extended supervision revoked for possessing a controlled substance to those calling for help for another person suffering an overdose. It also ends a sunset for a law granting immunity from prosecution or having probation, parole or extended supervision revoked for a controlled substance to overdose victims, if they complete a drug treatment program.
  • Extend a sunset for a law requiring prescribers to check a patient's records in the state’s prescription drug monitoring program before issuing a prescription order. Under the bill, the requirement would end on April 1, 2025, rather than April 1, 2020. The bill would also require the Controlled Substances Board to conduct a quarterly review of the program through Oct. 30, 2025, rather than through Oct. 30, 2020.
  • Require the Medical Examining Board to issue guidelines on the best practices for treating neonatal abstinence syndrome.
  • Require DHS to create a Medicaid benefit for peer recovery coach services. Also mandate that the department establish and maintain a program to coordinate and continue care following a substance use overdose.
  • Require DHS to create a registry of approved recovery residences. DHS couldn’t include any recovery residency that excludes those participating in medication-assisted treatment programs. The legislation also bars disciplining state employees who are using controlled substances as a recommended part of their medication-assisted treatment.
  • Require DHS to study the availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in prisons and jails. The agency will then have to propose a pilot project to the Joint Finance Committee to make all approved mediations for substance use disorder treatment available in at least one prison or county jail. The plan allows county jails to enter into an agreement with an ambulance service provider or doctor to obtain a supply of the anti-overdose drug naloxone and allows jailers to receive the training to administer the medication. The bill also grants legal immunity for administering naloxone.