February 12, Wisconsin Health News
The Joint Finance Committee signed off on two bills last week targeting the state’s opioid epidemic, teeing up the proposals for votes in the Assembly and Senate.
One of the bills would provide funding to combat drug trafficking, support substance abuse prevention efforts, establish treatment courts and provide medication-assisted treatment to inmates leaving jail. The other would make a series of changes to boost treatment and prevention efforts.
The committee approved an amendment to the second bill, which aimed to address some concerns raised about the bill streamlining the process for people to become substance abuse counselors.
“Wisconsin already has a pretty high threshold for requirements, both from an educational standpoint and from a clinical standpoint,” said bill author and JFC Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette. "Even with these changes, we are still on the high end of all our neighboring states.”
The amendment also changed a part of the bill mandating that the Department of Health Services remove prior authorization requirements for prescribing buprenorphine combination products, a treatment for opioid addiction. Instead, DHS would have to report back to the Legislature every six months until the requirements change.
The amendment didn't include a request by the medical community to remove parts of the bill requiring some healthcare providers take continuing medical education credits on prescribing opioids.
The Wisconsin Medical Society, which supported the bills, said in testimony that the proposal is unnecessary for the Medical Examining Board, which has issued rules requiring such education through 2019. Nygren praised the Medical Examining Board’s work.
“This is not a move to be punitive,” he said. “The Medical Examining Board has actually taken steps. Others haven’t.”