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Opioid Legislation Narrowly Moves To House

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A bill attempting to address Utah’s opioid crisis by making rules for how insurance companies prescribe drugs narrowly passed out of the House Health and Human Services committee on Wednesday.

The Insurance Opioid Regulation bill was put forward by Representative Ray Ward, a physician who represents Bountiful. Ward’s bill is an attempt to address over-prescription of opioids by focusing on how the medications first get prescribed.  

"Insurance companies, in the rules that they make, have some sway on whether on things that are safer or things that are less safe get prescribed," Ward said.

Ward’s bill would ask insurers to create policies that would cover non-opioid treatments for people with chronic pain, standards to avoid dangerous prescription drug combinations and policies to avoid long-term prescriptions that could lead to addiction.

Representative Edward Redd was one of the dissenting voices in the committee.

"Some people, you can get them into long term sobriety but for some people it’s more dangerous to try to get them into a sober state than to put them on medication-assisted therapy," Redd said. 

Other opposition came from private insurance groups. The bill was supported by family physician representatives and addiction prevention groups.

At the time of the vote, it passed narrowly with seven votes in favor and five against.

Representative Paul Ray was another supporter.

"In Social Services Appropriations today we had discussion about the epidemic. And it’s not getting any better. There’s a lot more education going on, but I think everybody should be a part of the game," Ray said. 

The bill now moves to the full House for consideration.

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