The American Insurance Association (AIA) lauded Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker for signing comprehensive opioid abuse legislation (H 4046) Monday.
Opioids are synthetic versions of opium-derived drugs, many of which were initially developed to treat end-stage cancers and now are increasingly used to relieve chronic pain.
AIA said opioid abuse is one of the most urgent issues facing the workers’ compensation system. The increasing cost associated with opioids, both human and economic, has made opioid abuse a national epidemic, according to the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
To combat opioid abuse, H 4046 will:
- Limit first time prescriptions of opioids to a seven-day supply;
- Allow patients to request that only a portion of their opioid prescription be filled in order to discourage overuse of painkillers;
- Change the requirements for the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to require registered participants to utilize the program each time a prescription is issued for Schedule II or III narcotics;
- Set guidelines that practitioners must follow when prescribing opioids; and
- Require additional training for medical licenses and law enforcement and include additional measures relating to treatment and prevention of substance use disorders.
AIA’s Northeast Region Vice President Alison Cooper said AIA applauds Baker for signing H 4046 as well as the leadership of policymakers in both the House and Senate for recognizing and addressing the issue of opioid abuse. Cooper said insurers are committed to combating this epidemic because the societal cost is simply too high.
“This legislation contains significant measures that have proven to be effective in reducing dependence on opioids,” Cooper said. “These include strengthening Massachusetts’ existing Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, setting guidelines for practitioners who dispense opioids and providing additional resources for the training and prevention of opioid abuse.”
“We remain committed to working with the governor’s office, legislators and the Division of Insurance in the fight against opioid abuse,” Cooper said.
AIA is a property/casualty insurance trade organization, representing approximately 325 insurers that write more than $127 billion in premiums each year.