By Clarke Reader (May 23rd, 2018)
Gov. John Hickenlooper stopped by Wheat Ridge’s Lutheran Medical Center on May 21 to sign into law three bills that aim to fight the opioid crises facing the state and those in need of mental health services.
“The opioid crises isn’t an urban or suburban issue — it’s grown into an epidemic all over the state,” Hickenlooper told the crowd of supporters, hospital staff and bill sponsors in attendance. “This has been an amazing legislative session, and this package off bills is as important as anything that was accomplished.”
SB 270 – Behavioral Health Transition Referral Program
Sponsored by Sens. Cheri Jahn (I-Lakewood) and Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County), and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Cole Wist (R-Arapahoe County).
The bill establishes a community transition specialist program in the office of behavioral health in the department of human services. The program coordinates referrals of high-risk individuals to transition specialists by behavioral health programs and organizations.
“This bill will impact my life and the life of many others,” said Evan Silverman, who has struggled with mental health issues for years. “This will put many, many people on a path to a better life trajectory.”
SB 077 – Clinical Practice for Opioid Prescribing
Sponsored by Sens. Jack Tate (R-Centennial) and Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood) and Chris Kennedy (D-Lakewood).
The bill restricts the number of opioid pills that a health care practitioner, including physicians, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists, and veterinarians, may prescribe for an initial prescription to a seven-day supply and allows each health care practitioner to exercise discretion to include a second fill for a seven-day supply.
“My mother’s story of opioid addiction recovery began in this hospital, where I saw how broken the system to help those suffering from addiction is,” Pettersen said. Her mother has been dealing with addiction issues for years. “I know this is some of the most important work I’ll do in my life.”
HB 1003 – Opioid Misuse Prevention
Sponsored by Cheri Jahn (I-Lakewood) and Kevin Priola (R-Adams County) and Rep. Brittany Pettersen (D-Lakewood).
In 2017, the state legislature created the Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee. The committee met throughout the summer and fall of 2017 and recommended a package of substance use disorder-related bills that were introduced during the 2018 legislative session. This bill would extend the committee’s charge through 2020.
“Anyone who has had firsthand experience with opioid addiction knows that it can happen out of nowhere. It is impossible to predict,” Hickenlooper said. “I’m not saying we’re done, but this is a great first step.”
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