The State Senate in the course of debating its version of the FY2020 state budget last week adopted two MHA priority amendments that will assist in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
The first amendment deals with nasal naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, which is the medication that reverses opioid overdoses. Patients can currently obtain Narcan though pharmacies and have insurers pay for it. But often, those suffering from opioid use disorder, after leaving a hospital emergency department (ED) following a near-fatal event, won’t go to their local drugstore to get Narcan. Hospitals often provide this medication to these individuals. The MHA-endorsed amendment, sponsored by Cape & Islands Senator Julian Cyr (D), ensures coverage and reimbursement for nasal naloxone provided to patients in EDs and other outpatient settings.
Specifically, the amendment adopted this past week provides not less than $300,000 “to increase the availability of nasal naloxone rescue kits prior to discharge from an acute care hospital emergency department or satellite emergency facility after treatment for an opioid overdose.” As importantly, the amendment requires the Division of Insurance and MassHealth to bring together providers and payers to devise a plan by July 2020 to fund the cost of distributing nasal naloxone rescue kits prior to discharge from an acute care hospital emergency department or satellite emergency facility after treatment for an opioid overdose. The amendment also supports expending funds for other harm reduction initiatives.
Another amendment win concerns the Massachusetts Consultation Service for the Treatment of Addiction and Pain (MCSTAP). The service provides free advice to clinicians on how to best treat SUD. (See related story below.) The MHA priority amendment, sponsored by Sen. Brendan Crighton (D-Lynn), provides $250,000 to expand MCSTAP’s reach to provide case management consultations to a wider range of providers, including nurse case managers, social workers, and recovery coaches.
In other amendment news, an effort by a nursing union representing less than 25% of RNs in the state to pass a measure that would have led to government-mandated nurse staffing ratios was defeated.
And a re-drafted amendment, filed by Sen. Harriette Chandler (D-Worcester), prohibits the Secretary of Health & Human Services from restricting or limiting a hospital’s access to the 340B program unless the Secretary fulfills a series of notice requirements prior to implementation. This amendment, which protects safety net hospitals from being denied the discounts to which they are entitled, was also an MHA priority.