Massachusetts opioid bill includes help for pain patients

On July 31, the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill to combat opioid misuse that includes patients who suffer from chronic pain. The bill calls for creating a program through which physicians could consult a team of pain-management specialists.

On July 31, the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill to combat opioid misuse that includes patients who suffer from chronic pain. The bill calls for creating a program through which physicians could consult a team of pain-management specialists. Other provisions would require health insurers to cover a broad range of pain treatments and the electronic prescribing of controlled substances. Prior to the requirement taking effect, the state's Health Policy Commission would study the issue and advise the Department of Insurance about which therapies should be required. Representatives of the Massachusetts Association of Health Plans and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts say they would collaborate with lawmakers on identifying evidence-based treatments. The opioid bill also proposes a 3-year pilot program, starting in September 2019, at correctional facilities in five counties that would provide medications to inmates for treating opioid addiction. The medications—methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone—would be administered to inmates who had a prescription when they arrived, and also to inmates 30 days before release. The legislation, which still requires the governor's approval, would require a similar treatment program at four other sites, including two women's prisons.