A bipartisan effort to combat the opioid epidemic is underway in Tallahassee with lawmakers having filed five bills that address the crisis from multiple fronts.
Prescriptions – SB 458, filed by Sen. Aaron Beach, R-Jacksonville, would limit opioid prescriptions for temporary pain. The bill would allow a 30-day renewal of an opioid prescription after the initial seven-day prescription.
The bill also requires doctors to consult the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, known as the PDMP, before prescribing controlled substances and to complete a two-hour course on prescribing opioids in order to renew their licenses.
Under the bill, physicians would also be required to complete an extensive medical history and physical exam on patients before prescribing opioid painkillers.
The patient’s medical record must document the nature and intensity of the pain, current and past treatments for pain, the effect the pain has on a patient’s physical and psychological function, a review of previous medical records and a history of alcohol and substance abuse.
Peer specialists – SB 450, filed by Sen. Rene Garcia, R-Hialeah, defines the role of peer specialists and requirements for certification. The bill defines peer specialists as addicts, alcoholics, and others with mental illnesses who have been in recovery for at least two years and have passed a criminal background check.
Under the bill, the Department of Children and Families would create a training program for peer specialists. Services provided to those in recovery by peer specialists include assistance in getting a job, finding housing, education, and life skills. Services would also be eligible for reimbursement by DCF and Medicaid.
Babies born addicted – SB 434, filed by Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R- Naples, would create a two-year pilot program to treat babies born addicted to opioids, called the neonatal abstinence system. The program would be located at a nonprofit medical facility in southwest Florida that accepts Medicaid.
The facility would also be required to offer “residential-type accommodations” to the mother. The facility can require the mother to be drug tested — including testing her breast milk if she is nursing. If she refuses to be tested, she must leave the facility. Treatment will not exceed six months.
Fee added to bail – HB 253, filed by Rep. Kimberly Daniels, D-Jacksonville, would impose a $10 fee attached to bail set for certain drug and alcohol-related offenses. The fee would be used for grants to small counties to combat drug abuse.
Counties with populations under 50,000 could use the grant money for drug enforcement training, equipment, salaries, and cleanup at drug-manufacturing sites, such as meth labs. Twenty-six of Florida’s 57 counties had populations under 50,000 in 2016, according to state demographic data.
Involuntary treatment – SB 202, filed by Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, would revise the criteria for involuntary treatment for drug abuse. Under the bill, addicts who have been revived from an overdose with naloxone, also known as Narcan, could be involuntarily committed to a hospital or detox facility for up to 72 hours.