The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence of New Jersey, its volunteer Advocates, staff, and supporters embrace their duty to help focus public officials’ on the implementation of policies that will promote therapy and recovery over stigma and punishment. We have continued to do this work in the first year of Governor Phil Murphy’s term and with the new and returning members of the 2018/19 state Legislature. A quarter of the legislative Term has concluded and there are a number of bills pending in the State Capitol that deserve the consideration of drug policy activists. These include:
S.1339/A.2031 – Enhance private insurance coverage of behavioral health services on a par with physical, medical reimbursements – This measure would require insurance carriers to submit more fulsome data on efforts they have undertaken to adhere to parity requirements, give the state Department of Banking and Insurance greater authority to enforce parity compliance, and make the information publicly available. It is anticipated that this proposal will be moved within the next few months.
AJR70/SJR94 – Establish a temporary Task Force to examine how best to treat individuals who experience multiple opioid overdoses and reversals; and make recommendations to the Governor
A.3741/S.2415 – Mandate that all pharmacies sell hypodermic needles and syringes to any customer over eighteen - Further, the pharmacy must make information available concerning both the safe disposal of used needles and local resources for substance misuse therapy.
S.491 – Require public and private high schools to annually conduct written or verbal substance screenings on all students using a particular program ( SBIRT – Screening, Brief intervention and Referral to Treatment)
A.1467 – Facilitate the establishment of four new peer-to-peer recovery community centers
A.216 – Mandate police training for interactions with people who may have behavioral health issues
S.2100/A.3456 – Remove prohibition on voting by persons on parole, probation or incarcerated
A.3292/S.2244 – Mandate that all prescription opioid medication include a warning sticker advising patients of the risk of addiction and overdose
S.1756/A.4273 – Require insurance carriers to reimburse for Suboxone and Subutex
A.3288/S.948 – Designate sober living homes as beneficial uses in the context of the Municipal Land Use Act
A.1189/S.1324 – Mandate that a portion of forfeited assets in certain drug cases be directed to fund drug treatment
A.3838/S.2321 – Authorize public libraries to maintain a supply of opioid antidotes and permits emergency administration by trained library personnel
A.4273/S.1756 – Require health benefits coverage for buprenorphine and naloxone under certain conditions
A.4131 – Establish vehicle staffing and performance standards, as well as, review and reporting requirements for non-emergency Medicaid transportation
A measure that was signed in to law at the end of August, was A.542/S.1830. This legislation requires al NJ high schools to maintain a stock of the opioid overdose antidote, naloxone (brand name NARCAN). The school nurse, or other trained staff, are authorized to administer the reversal drug in an emergency. Those utilizing the drug in an emergency situation would be indemnified from any criminal, civil or disciplinary liability. Further, the manufacturer of NARCAN (Adapt Pharmaceuticals) has agreed to donate up to eight dosages of the antidote to each school, thus allowing the school to avoid the cost of stocking the reversal drug.
For more on these proposals, or for contact information for your representatives, see the N.J. Legislature’s website: www.njleg.state.nj.us