Governor Baker Signs Opioid and Alzheimer's Legislation

Last week, Gov. Charlie Baker signed two pieces of legislation of interest to the hospital community – a first-in-the-nation law designed to improve the diagnosis and treatment of individuals with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, and the latest effort to further address substance use disorder prevention and treatment in the state.

The Alzheimer’s law includes a requirement that all Massachusetts hospitals have detailed operational plans in place by 2021 for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and various kinds of dementia. Pat Noga, RN, PhD, MHA’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs, noted MHA’s support for the new law and said the association and member hospitals, in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, are already moving forward with this effort, and MHA will be releasing recommended guidelines in the early fall for hospitals to utilize in implementing such plans.

The opioid law requires hospitals to offer Opioid Agonist Treatment (OAT) for opioid use disorders, and ensure that patients are connected to critical continuing services. It also clears licensed certified social workers and other licensed healthcare providers to administer substance use disorder evaluations (SUDEs) in hospital emergency departments, streamlines reporting on the frequency and location of SUDEs, and calls for integration of the state’s prescription monitoring program (MassPAT) into all hospitals’ electronic medical record systems. There is also specific language allowing partial-fill prescriptions for certain narcotic drugs, while permitting patients to obtain the remainder of the prescription later, if necessary, at no additional cost.

Steve Walsh, MHA’s president & CEO, said “MHA and the hospital community stand as committed partners to the legislature, Governor Baker and his administration, and all other healthcare stakeholders to implement this comprehensive legislation, which we believe will support the needs of patients and help defeat the scourge of opioid addiction.”