Friday, February 02, 2018

TOO LATE FOR PESSIMISM

Despite the ever-deepening, hellish pit that is the present opiate crisis - and – the White House’s apparent conclusion that kneeling football players merit more scrutiny than the country’s on-going worst health tragedy in the modern era – Garden State decision makers in recent times can point with distinction to a number of largely positive improvements in addictions and recovery policies. To be sure, much more needs to be done. Yet, in the just-concluded 2016/17 Legislative Term, a Democratic Senate and Assembly along with a Republican Governor, can note with pride some of the proposals that made it into law. The following are some:

S.1266 – Establish a permanent, statewide sterile needle exchange program

A.2292 – Require a review of the Core Curriculum Content Standards to ensure that guidance for substance misuse instruction provided to public school students incorporates the most recent evidence-based standards and practices

A.3744 – Establishes law enforcement assisted addiction and recovery referral programs

S.601 – Permits certain persons with drug possession convictions to be eligible for General Assistance and Emergency Housing Assistance

S.384 – Requires correctional facilities to provide prisoners with medications for chronic illnesses that were prescribed prior to incarceration

S.3083 – Provides immunity to emergency personnel for the administration of up to three doses of an opioid antidote This proposal was in response to the frequent need to administer multiple dosages of naloxone in the event of a Fentanyl overdose.

S.1710 – Permits ambulatory care facilities to provide primary health care and behavioral health services under a single license

A.2430 – Requires that, when a health care professional or first responder administers an opioid antidote to a person experiencing a drug overdose, the individual must be provided with information concerning substance misuse treatment resources, including information on the availability of opioid antidotes.

S.2964 – Prohibits residential substance use disorder treatment facilities and aftercare facilities (including sober living homes and halfway houses) from denying admission to a person on the basis that the individual is currently receiving medication assisted treatment

S.3306 – Prohibits certain public employment discrimination based upon an expunged criminal record

S.3307 – Revises procedures for expunging criminal records, including shortening some waiting periods for expungement eligibility and increasing the number of convictions that may be expunged.

S.3308 – Decreases the waiting period to expunge an entire juvenile criminal record from five years to three

S.3604 – Mandates that practitioners check prescription monitoring information before prescribing opioids to emergency patients

A.2619 – Requires that certain prisoners with detainers ( wanted for adjudication in another jurisdiction) be provided access to in-prison drug treatment programs

A.3/S.3 – Mandates health insurance coverage for treatment of substance use disorders; and places certain restrictions on the prescribing of opioids

S.307 – Creates a Veterans’ Diversion Program to divert veterans and active duty service members, charged with non-violent offenses and experiencing behavioral health problems, away from the criminal justice system and in to appropriate treatment

S.295 – Authorizes pharmacists to dispense opioid antidotes to patients without a prescription

S.2878 - Allows health care facilities to use shared clinical space when providing primary and behavioral health care for moderate behavioral health conditions

S.291 – Authorizes health care providers to engage in telemedicine

S.1840 – Prohibits charging a fee to stop publishing personal identifying information obtained through the criminal justice system

S.2721 – Implements person-first language and changes pejorative terminology in laws and regulations referring to individuals with substance use disorders

A.1662 – Requires the development and maintenance of a data dashboard report to advise of open bed availability in residential facilities providing behavioral health services

A.3944 – Directs the NJ Dept. of Education to develop an educational fact sheet for distribution to parents of student athletes and cheerleaders concerning the use, and misuse, of prescription opioids

A.2176 – Criminalizes the possession and sale of “flocka” or “flakka”

A.1661 – Mandates the enrollment of certain prisoners in to the Medicaid program

A.1549 – Requires health care professionals with the authority to write prescriptions for opioids, to complete continuing education courses regarding issues related to prescription opioids

A.3778 – Mandates that prescriptions be transmitted electronically to a pharmacy

To review any of the above in their entirety, go to the NJLegislature’s website.
As we embark upon the 2018/19 Legislative Term and welcome a new Governor, the NCADD-NJ Advocates and staff are pledged to continue pushing for the quality reforms and resources needed to help people in attaining, and retaining, sobriety.

Ed Martone
Policy Analyst