By calling a concurrent special session, Ducey sets the stage to go from proposal to finished law in three days.
Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, said at a ceremony where Gov. Doug Ducey signed a proclamation for a special legislative session to confront the issue:
In 2016, more than two Arizonans died each day due to an opioid overdose. Since 2012, we’ve seen an increase of 74 percent in opioid-related deaths. Drug overdoses kill more Arizonans than car accidents.
Arizona Capitol Times reports the elements of the package include:
- New enforcement procedures to go after doctors who overprescribe not just opioids but other similar drugs. That could raise questions from doctors who specialize in pain management.
- Allow the state to charge companies that manufacture opioid and their executives with felonies for misrepresenting the effectiveness and addictive nature of their drugs.
- Require insurance companies to expedite authorization for certain kinds of treatments. That is based on concerns that while patients are awaiting the go-ahead from insurers for surgery, they end up being given opioids for the pain, increasing the possibility of addiction.
- A “Good Samaritan” provision, allowing someone who is using drugs to call for help when a companion needs medical attention without putting himself or herself at risk of arrest.
Today the House Health Committee took testimony and unanimously approved House Bill 2001. The vote sends the measure to the full House for debate, likely Wednesday; an identical bill is also set for debate in a Senate panel Wednesday.
Testimony was presented by a pain management physician, William Thompson, cautioning that “well meaning policy not well thought out” could spawn more problems.
Dr Cara Christ, State Health Director, said pharmacists would be required to put opioids into bottles with a red cap. The red cap requirement is designed to make sure that patients realize this is a special drug that requires special attention.
Testimony from a parent and a dentist drew a variety of pictures. Legislators expressed support and concern. Read about the afternoon’s discussions in The Arizona Daily Star
No major opposition appeared Tuesday as the Arizona Legislature began considering HB 2001.
Support was broad in testimony from associations representing doctors and pain medicine specialists, behavioral health providers and loved ones of those addicted. An advocate for those already addicted said the proposal fell short because it doesn’t include needle exchange and other programs.
Republican House Speaker J.D. Mesnard said at the start of the hearing:
I realize that there are a number of interested parties that are here today that will be affected by this — everything from pharmacists to doctors to vets, you name it, insurance companies. I am just imploring them that they look at this like as a partnership, that we are all in this together.
Both the Senate and House versions are sponsored by leaders from both parties. Ducey’s staff worked for months to craft a proposal that had widespread support. Read more from The Associated Press