Baker Testifies on His Opioid Bill; MHA Offers Strong Support

Last Tuesday, Governor Charlie Baker and Health & Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders testified at length before the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery on the governor’s second major bill to stem the opioid epidemic in the state.

MHA strongly supports the governor’s legislation – HB4033, “An Act Relative to Combatting Addiction, Accessing Treatment, Reducing Prescriptions, and Enhancing Prevention”. 

Recent data indicates that overdose deaths are declining and there has been a 29% reduction in opioid prescriptions since the governor enacted Chapter 52 of the Acts of 2016 (the STEP Act); but there are still people struggling with opioid addiction in the state, which tragically has resulted in many deaths.

In written testimony, MHA said HB4033 takes the next needed steps by improving access to treatment, preventing opioid misuse, and expanding care coordination between acute and community-based services.

“The hospital community stands as a committed partner to Governor Baker and the legislature in doing whatever it can to stem this persistent epidemic, including the development of more effective operational policies, clinical standards, and care coordination measures,” MHA wrote. “MHA looks forward to working with this committee, the administration and the full legislature to ensure the enactment of these and other evidence-based tools.”

MHA and its members have worked closely with the Baker Administration to develop policies and best practices to address the opiate epidemic, including: limiting opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply; using prescriber reports from the state’s prescription monitoring program (MassPAT) to monitor inappropriate prescriptions; developing non-opiate pain management alternatives; and implementing standards for substance use disorder evaluations within emergency departments.