Guv signs anti-opi­oid leg­is­la­tion

The Trentonian (Trenton, NJ) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michael Catal­ini

TREN­TON >> Just a day af­ter meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump at the White House on drug ad­dic­tion, Gov. Chris Christie signed leg­is­la­tion Wed­nes­day aimed at curb­ing the state’s opi­oid ad­dic­tion epi­demic, tak­ing ac­tion just min­utes af­ter the Demo­crat-led As­sem­bly ap­proved the mea­sure.

The leg­is­la­tion curbs ini­tial opi­oid pre­scrip­tions to a five-day sup­ply, mak­ing New Jersey’s the most strin­gent limit in the coun­try, ac­cord­ing to the Repub­li­can gover­nor. It also man­dates statereg­u­lated health in­sur­ers cover in­pa­tient and out­pa­tient treat­ment for drug ad­dic­tion.

The pre­scrip­tion drug limit would not ap­ply to can­cer and chronic pain pa­tients and for end-of-life care. The leg­is­la­tion also calls for con­tin­u­ing ed­u­ca­tion for pro­fes­sion­als who pre­scribe drugs.

“We are here to­day to save lives,” Christie said mo­ments af­ter he signed the bill in a State­house cer­e­mony. The gover­nor said the five­day sup­ply limit is the coun­try’s strong­est, say­ing “New Jersey now leads the way first and fore­most in rec­og­niz­ing this is a disease.”

Christie is de­vot­ing his fi­nal year in of­fice to the opi­oid cri­sis and said Trump was in­ter­ested in hear­ing what Christie and law­mak­ers were do­ing in New Jersey on the is­sue. Once Trump’s tran­si­tion chair­man be­fore be­ing re­moved by the pres­i­dent, Christie has been the fo­cal point of spec­u­la­tion about tak­ing a White House or Cabi­net post. On Wed­nes­day, he said his talk with Trump did not in­clude any dis­cussion of his tak­ing on a “drug czar” or other role re­lated to ad­dic­tion.

“Let me be very clear, we did not get into any dis­cussion of me join­ing the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion in some type of drug abuse role, some type of czar or God for­bid sur­geon gen­eral,” he said.

Christie, who is term-lim­ited, is set to leave of­fice in Jan­uary 2018.

Nearly 1,600 peo­ple died from opi­oids in 2015 in New Jersey. Ear­lier this month, Christie de­clared opi­oid drugs to be a pub­lic health cri­sis. An ex­ec­u­tive or­der he is­sued also cre­ated an eight­mem­ber task force to de­velop a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy. He has got­ten broad sup­port from law­mak­ers, par­tic­u­larly from Democrats who con­trol the Leg­is­la­ture. The mea­sure that passed Wed­nes­day moved through the Leg­is­la­ture in a mat­ter of weeks. Some bills wait years be­fore mak­ing it to the gover­nor’s desk.

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