Michigan House passes opioid abuse plan

Michael Gerstein
The Detroit News

Lansing – The House approved Tuesday a six-bill package meant to fight opioid and prescription drug addiction, including covering addiction treatment for recipients in Michigan’s Medicaid health care program for low-income residents.

The legislation, largely based on recommendations and findings from a 2015 report by Gov. Rick Snyder’s opioid task force, includes measures to help inform the public about the danger of addiction and put new safeguards in law to protect against pill mills. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

A bill sponsored by Rep. Andy Schor, D-Lansing, would allow Medicaid to cover treatment costs for addiction recovery and detoxification. Another bill would allow pharmacists to refuse to fill opioid prescriptions if they believe the patient forged the script or a doctor improperly issued it.

Schor said the legislation is “a result of the task force work that we did” and called it “an even larger step forward” in fighting opioid addiction.

The plan would also require parental consent for opioids for minors except in the case of a medical emergency and other exceptions provided in the legislation, something that Rep. Edward Canfield, R- Sebewaing, opposed because he said it would hamper doctors’ ability to do their job.

Canfield, himself a practicing doctor, urged his colleagues to vote against the bill. But it passed in a 81-26 vote after Rep. Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe, made the case for a yes vote.

“We’ve lost too many brothers and sisters to addiction,” Bellino said. “I know we can’t legislate the end of addiction. But we can put safeguards in.”

In May, Snyder signed legislation into law that makes a narcotic overdose antidote available at pharmacies, although not all pharmacies are yet ready to distribute the medication.


Twitter: @MikeGerstein