Special Session on Opioids / by Joe Furia

Greg Ensell, Vice President of Government Relations

Governor Doug Ducey announced in his annual State of the State speech that lawmakers will be tackling the opioid crisis in a concurrent special session over the next month. A package of legislation will be released next week, along with a formal call for a special session. Details of what to expect can be found in the Department of Health Services’ (DHS) opioid task force report.

DHS has recommended more than a dozen new laws aimed at confronting the crisis, with efforts focused on reducing the illicit use of opioids, promoting safe prescribing, decreasing risks of opioid use and improving access to treatment. In addition, DHS would like to put in place a 5-day limit for all first prescription fills and limit the size of doses.

There would also be laws aimed at prescribing, including changes to the labels and packaging for opioids. The department has also proposed regulating pain management clinics in order to stop “pill mill” activities. Furthermore, the report states that enforcement mechanisms are needed to help curb pill milling and overprescribing.

Additionally, if passed, HB 2033: Good Samaritan bill would allow bystanders to call 911 for potential opioid overdoses, which the department said is needed because people are afraid to call emergency services for fear of prosecution.

AzHHA will provide updates as more information becomes available.