Reps push ‘Jessie’s Law’ named for Ann Arbor woman

Melissa Nann Burke
Detroit News Washington Bureau

Washington — A bipartisan congressional task force focused on the opioid epidemic has included the Michigan-inspired Jessie’s Law on its legislative agenda for 2018.

The bill, which the Senate passed in August, was drafted in response to the death of Jessica Grubb, an Ann Arbor woman who moved to Michigan for long-term treatment of her heroin addiction.

She lived seven months clean before she had to have surgery for a running injury. The doctor who discharged her from the hospital prescribed Oxycodone, on which Grubb overdosed shortly thereafter in March 2016, according to her family.

“We can’t let that happen again,” Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn said at a Wednesday news conference at the U.S. Capitol.

“Her parents informed the doctors of (her addiction), but it didn’t get to the doctor who did the discharge,” said Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said. “What a waste of life. Not only of Jessie’s but the families that are impacted by this as well.”

Dingell and Walberg introduced the House bill, which would direct the government to develop guidelines for including a patient’s history of addiction treatment in their electronic health records, with the patient’s consent.

“Our bill would require the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to establish best practices for hospitals and physicians for sharing information about a patient’s past opioid addiction, so that we can avoid this situation in the future,” Dingell said.

Walberg said after the news conference that he and Dingell are working to get the legislation passed in the Energy and Commerce Committee in the coming months.

“We’re optimistic,” Dingell said.

The congresswoman has previously shared how her sister died of a drug overdose and that she grew up with a father who was addicted to prescription drugs.

“It’s an issue that’s very personal to me,” she added.

In Michigan, 1,275 people died from heroin and opioid-related overdoses in 2015 — a nearly 100 percent increase from the 639 deaths in 2010, according to the most recent data from the state Department of Health and Human Services.