Opioid Bill Passes

Close to midnight on July 31, the Massachusetts Senate enacted and sent to Governor Baker HB4866 – the final text of legislation agreed to by the House and Senate to address the opioid epidemic.

A major component of the bill is its directive to acute care hospitals that deliver emergency services, as well as satellite emergency facilities, to have the capacity to initiate opioid treatment involving buprenorphine therapy, among other such “opioid agonists.” Hospitals would also be required to connect patients to continuing treatment. MHA was supportive of this language and convened a workgroup earlier this year to develop recommendations for hospitals to implement the requirements.

The bill was a priority for Governor Charlie Baker who met with the MHA Board of Trustees earlier this year to press for support of its passage. MHA and its membership have been involved in the fight against the opioid epidemic and worked with legislative sponsors on a variety of measures to strengthen the legislation, including: language to make it easier for hospitals to more smoothly integrate MassPAT (the state’s prescription monitoring program), partial fill of opioid prescriptions, and provisions allowing licensed certified social workers and other healthcare providers (including interns, residents and fellows) to perform substance use disorder evaluations in hospital emergency departments.

“MHA and the hospital community stand as committed partners to the legislature, Governor Baker and his administration, and all other healthcare stakeholders to implement this comprehensive legislation, which we believe will support the needs of patients and help defeat the scourge of opioid addiction,” said MHA President & CEO Steve Walsh.