2017 Opioid Legislation Roundup
Unfortunately, 2017 saw the rate of opiate-related deaths increase on pace with prior years. The newest report from the CDC released Dec 21 2017 details 60,000 deaths from overdose in 2016—an average of 147 lives lost per day.
In the increasing urgency and public discourse surrounding the issue, we saw some major legislation introduced at both the state and federal levels aimed at improving opioid addiction recovery efforts.
The State of Maryland successfully passed two key pieces of legislation in an effort to curb the more than 2000 deaths occurring from opiate overdose in the state each year.
Maryland has been described as having a statistically significant problem with opiate overdoses, deaths from which increased 20 percent year over year for the past two years. The rate of increase here is shocking, and this newly passed legislation is an encouraging first volley against this rapidly-growing menace.
This sweeping bill, passed in April of 2017, funded various measures to combat overdose deaths in Maryland. Among the changes included in the bill were increased payments to behavioral health providers, guidelines for availability of overdose-reversing drugs, expansion of the 24/7 crisis hotline, standardization of release requirements for hospital patients presenting with symptoms of addiction.
Prescriber Limits Act of 2017
Maryland voted to limit the availability of opiate drugs by making the diagnostic requirements for physicians more stringent, and limiting them to prescribing the lowest effective does of an opiate in cases where they are found necessary.
Both of these sweeping pieces of legislation were introduced February 9, 2017 and both are still pending. The average bill in the US legislature takes 260 days to pass, so these bills are not exactly languishing with no chance of passing.
The White House and the Republican congress have prioritized major bills and legislative projects this year, putting these two acts on the back burner, so to speak.
President Trump has publicly commented on the national opiate epidemic and described it (rightfully) as a crisis. We feel it is likely that congress will revisit and pass these two critical bills in 2018.