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Dear Friends and Neighbors,   

 

 

On Thursday, I voted in the affirmative on H4743 – An Act relative to treatments and coverage for substance use disorder and recovery coach licensure. Massachusetts continues to battle against the opioid crisis, individuals are suffering, families are struggling, and our communities are strained trying to meet the many concerns and issues of addiction. This piece of legislation will grow our resources to best prevent and avoid fatal overdoses. This bill builds on our continued efforts to address substance abuse disorder and opioid-related overdose deaths, including 2018 legislation I co-authored as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery.  

 

Last year, Massachusetts saw a decrease of in opioid-related overdose deaths by ten percent, the largest single-year decline in opioid-related overdose deaths. Preliminary data from the first three month of 2024 indicate a continued decline in opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts. However, our work is not done. With this bill, we will continue to build stronger supports and resources to support individuals and families and decrease the number of lives lost due to substance use.  

 

Specifically, the bill will:  

 

  • Mandate insurance coverage of emergency opioid antagonists (i.e. Nalozone, Narcan) without cost-sharing or prior authorization. 
  • Require substance use disorder treatment facilities and hospitals to provide at least two doses of an opioid antagonist when discharging affected patients. 
  • Require pharmacies in communities most impacted by overdoses to sell overdose-reversal drugs over the counter without a prescription.  
  • Limit liability for users and workers who test personal drug supplies on the premises of harm reduction facilities. 
  • Establishes a formal licensing process for recovery coaches.  

 

Over the course of debate, the House adopted an amendment I co-filed with the Chair of Consumer Protection, Chair Tackey Chan to establish a diversion program for dentists struggling with substance use disorder. Although some licensed health care professionals, including physicians, have access to confidential treatment and diversion programming through their licensing boards, dentists do not currently have access to a similar, confidential option. This amendment would remedy this.  

 

H4743 will not only benefit those who are struggling with substance abuse disorder but will also provide resources for communities and individuals to work to reach and help those struggling. This bill is a step in the right direction to reduce fatal overdoses and increase awareness and access to life-saving opioid reversal treatments. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.   

 

Yours in service,  

Denise 

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