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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: September 2, 2016 12:25 PM
From: Representative Aaron D. Kaufer
To: All House members
Subject: Comprehensive Opioid Package (10)

I will be introducing a package of legislation which pursues a broad approach to addressing the ongoing opioid epidemic.

This legislation will empower communities across the Commonwealth by developing strategies for our educators, hospitals, law enforcement officers, councilors and, most importantly, our families to confront this epidemic.

Please join me in sponsoring this package of legislation. If you have any questions, please contact my Harrisburg office at 717-787-3798.

Document #1

Introduced as HB2321

Community Hospital Emergency Drug and Alcohol Detoxification
In order to ensure the availability of emergency drug and alcohol detoxification in our community hospitals, this bill will encourage existing health care facilities to convert beds to provide medically supervised detoxification and create a staging area for people who are in need of developing a high quality treatment program who may still be in search of an available bed.

Document #2

Introduced as HB2322

Emergency Insurance Addendum

This legislation will require insurers to provide consumers with an emergency insurance addendum explaining the coverage for addiction treatment services provided under their purchased plan.  The addendum must be no more than two pages, be written in nontechnical language, explain how to access coverage, and how to file an appeal.

Document #3

Introduced as HB2323

Mental Health Parity and Addiction Reporting Requirements
Under the 2008 federal Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act, parity requirements are placed on self-insured plans, federal employee plans and plans sold on the health exchange. This means the law prevents insurers from imposing less favorable benefit limits on addiction treatment than on medical/surgical benefits, however, no one is enforcing the federal law. My legislation will require insurers to disclose to the Insurance Department the number of insureds, the number of insureds receiving addiction treatment and a breakdown of the treatment, including denials based on types of treatment. The department will use this information to prepare a public report that will be further reviewed by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs for compliance with the federal parity law and other laws of the Commonwealth. 

Document #4

Introduced as HB2324

Certification of Compliance with Mental Health Parity and Addiction

This legislation further provides the means for insurers to prove themselves compliant with the abovementioned Mental Health Parity & Addiction Equity Act. Insurers will be required to file a written certification with the Insurance Department, under oath, attesting that they have completed a comprehensive review of all health insurance policies and plans they administer and that they are in compliance with the federal law.

Document #5

Introduced as HB2325

Certifying “Sober Houses”
Following up on the great work completed by the Certification of Drug and Alcohol Recovery Houses Task Force, whose task was to identify recommendations for minimum safety standards for all recovery houses, this legislation will establish a certification process for drug and alcohol houses that receive taxpayer dollars. This will set the precedents for any reputable “sober house” which wants to continue to receive taxpayer dollars and be a requirement before any referrals can be made to a sober house by a health care provider. The program will be established by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs.

Document #6

Introduced as HB2326

Loan Forgiveness for Counselors

While our need for addiction counseling and services has grown, our ability to meet this need has not kept pace. To address this issue, I will be introducing legislation to establish the Loan Forgiveness for Counselors Program administered by the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency.  The purpose of the program is to provide an incentive to Pennsylvania students to pursue higher education and careers in counseling to meet the delivery of quality addiction counseling services in the Commonwealth. To be eligible for the program, a qualified individual must be a resident of Pennsylvania, have successfully completed a two-year or four-year academic degree or diploma at an accredited school, and be hired as a full-time counselor by a licensed alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility. It is capped at $35,000 per recipient and safeguards are in place for recipients who fail to meet the obligations contracted including repayment.

Document #7

Introduced as HB2327

Drug Education Curricula Update
Over the years, our schools have taken on the role of substance abuse education and yet the last time the Legislature examined this role was in 1990. This legislation will update anti-drug curricula to include new prevention programs and will identify the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) as the department to provide this guidance. This bill will also require DDAP and the Department of Education to jointly issue a report and an update every five years thereafter to the General Assembly. 

Document #8

Introduced as HB2328

Pennsylvania Project Lazarus Commission
Nearly a decade ago, community leaders from Wilkes County, North Carolina implemented what is known as the Project Lazarus Model that saw a 69 percent drop in fatal overdoses over a three-year period. By the fourth year there was not one overdose death reported. Project Lazarus is based on the premise that communities are responsible for their own health and well-being. As its website states: “Using experience, data, and compassion we empower communities and individuals to prevent medication and drug overdoses, present responsible pain management and promote substance use treatment and support services.” I have developed legislation establishing the Pennsylvania Project Lazarus Commission. The commission will develop a best practice model for a comprehensive, community-based effort to consolidate overdose prevention efforts.

Document #9

Introduced as HB2329

Drug Courts

“Drug Courts” employ a coordinated response to criminal defendants, integrating treatment and court processing, and providing a continuum of services.  They tend to have better long-term outcomes, including reduced recidivism, and increased rates of reemployment and long term sobriety.  The up-front costs can be a barrier and prevent jurisdictions from having this type of specialty court.  To help, I plan to introduce legislation that would give counties that have established “drug courts” the option of adopting a fee to help pay for some of the associated costs.  Specifically, my bill gives counties the authority to adopt, by ordinance, a fee to be imposed upon criminal defendants who are convicted of or plead guilty to a drug crime.  The amount of the fee would also be set by ordinance, but could not exceed $250. Amounts collected will be set aside for the establishment and operation of the drug court.

Document #10

Introduced as HB2330

New Guidelines for Opioid Maintenance Treatment with Buprenorphine
In order to slow the spread of prescription opioid abuse, I will be introducing legislation directing the State Board of Medicine to adopt guidelines restricting when buprenorphine is prescribed in an office-based practice or other location determined by the board.  My bill prohibits any doctor from dispensing, injecting, implanting or prescribing buprenorphine unless it is part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes counseling and behavioral health therapy.  Requiring the counseling to accompany the prescribing of buprenorphine will increase the effectiveness of the medication and put an end to the subculture that has arisen.