Baker re­quest­ing Narcan be avail­able over the counter

Woonsocket Call - - Region | Obituaries - By STEVE PEO­PLES

BOS­TON — Gov. Char­lie Baker wants states to have the flex­i­bil­ity to make the over­dose-re­vers­ing drug nalox­one avail­able over the counter to help stem the na­tion's opioid over­dose epi­demic.

The Repub­li­can gov­er­nor plans to de­liver let­ters on Wed­nes­day to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and Eric Har­gan, act­ing sec­re­tary of the U.S. Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Depart­ment, re­quest­ing the change.

Baker, a mem­ber of Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump's special com­mis­sion on opioid abuse, said Mas­sachusetts al­ready has ex­panded ac­cess to the drug, but he wants the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to make that ac­cess even broader.

Baker also wants the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to ap­prove rapid urine tests for the pres­ence of the opioid fen­tanyl for use by doc­tors and per­mit of­fice­based opioid treat­ment with methadone.

Baker an­nounced his in­ten­tion to send the let­ters as he un­veiled a new bill Tues­day that he says would ex­pand the state's on­go­ing bat­tle against an opioid cri­sis that has claimed thou­sands of lives in Mas­sachusetts.

The gov­er­nor said the leg­is­la­tion aims to in­crease ac­cess to treat­ment and re­cov­ery ser­vices and strengthen ed­u­ca­tion and pre­ven­tion ef­forts.

"While we have seen progress and gained valu- able in­sight into com­bat­ting the dis­ease, this leg­is­la­tion takes stronger, more tar­geted steps to in­ter­vene ear­lier in a per­son's life," said Baker.

Among other steps, the bill would cre­ate a com­mis­sion to rec­om­mend stan­dards for the cre­den­tial­ing of re­cov­ery coaches.

Baker said re­quir­ing that re­cov­ery coaches — who help those strug­gling with ad­dic­tion — be cre­den­tialed by the state would help make sure they are qual­i­fied and could make it easier for their ser­vices to be cov­ered by in­sur­ers.

Mas­sachusetts Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Mary­lou Sud­ders said the bill also seeks to make it easier for those with sub­stance use dis­or­der to con­nect with the right per­son to help treat their spe­cific needs.

The bill tries to build on the ex­ist­ing state re­quire­ment that pa­tients who ar­rive in hos­pi­tal emer­gency de­part­ments af­ter an over­dose be of­fered a sub­stance abuse eval­u­a­tion and con­nected to treat­ment within 24 hours.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion said data col­lected since the re­quire­ment took ef­fect in 2016 sug­gests that 50 per­cent to 90 per­cent of the pa­tients de­clined the eval­u­a­tion and left the hos­pi­tal with­out an as­sess­ment.

The bill would re­quire hos­pi­tals to take more ag­gres­sive steps to per­suade pa­tients to seek ad­di­tional help while also record­ing over­dose in­ci­dents and re­sults of a sub­stance use eval­u­a­tion in a pa­tient's elec­tronic records.

Baker

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