Rx Drug Monitoring, Insurance Coverage For Addiction Bills Clear Senate Hurdle

Apr 30, 2014

A state senate committee has recommended passage of two bills aimed at curbing prescription drug and heroin abuse.

Bills aimed at curbing drug addiction and overdose passed in Senate committee.
Credit Aaron Read / RIPR

A bill that would require doctors who prescribe controlled substances like OxyContin to use the state’s prescription drug monitoring system has cleared a hurdle in the Senate health and human services committee. The system is an online database that keeps track of a patient’s prescriptions and may help a prescriber spot addictive behavior. But until now only a small percentage of doctors have been using the system, in part because of the extra time it takes to look up a patient’s records, some have said. But the bill in question would also allow doctors to designate someone else in their office to use the system, such as a nurse or physician’s assistant.

The senate committee also recommended a measure that would require health insurers to cover medications that treat prescription painkiller and heroin abuse.

This bill would also require health care facilities to update patient discharge plans to include providing a link to substance abuse treatment.

The recommendations come with this grim update from the state health department: the number of apparent accidental overdose deaths in Rhode Island so far this year has risen to 90.