SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Senate President Therese Murray called it a bold, but necessary move; a new plan to combat the growing drug epidemic.
“It’s become a big problem in the United States, drugs, and substance abuse, it’s terrible. It’s out of hand,” said Kurt Showalter of Chester.
In March alone, 125 babies in Massachusetts were born addicted to drugs. “Addiction is a chronic disease, and we have to start treating it as such,” Senate President Therese Murray said.
On Thursday, a group of state senators announced a bill that could give drug abusers easier access to treatment by removing prior insurance authorization requirements for certain services.
Senator Jen Flanagan said, “We had other members of the community who told us that their loved ones had died in the midst of trying to obtain treatment, but didn’t get there in time because of that one last ‘no’ they were given.”
Supporters of the bill said both legal and illegal prescription drugs have contributed to overdose deaths in Massachusetts, and they said drug addiction is a major problem among young people between the ages of 15 and 25.
The proposed bill also imposes restrictions on doctors prescribing opiates. Some western Massachusetts residents told 22News a simpler way the state could help is funding more after-school community programs.
“Definitely think that there’s not enough for kids to do around the community, and you know, it leads them to things that are not positive,” Gabrielle Gillyan of Springfield said.
The Senate will announce how much it’ll cost to implement the bill in their fiscal 2015 budget. They’re expected to vote on the bill next Tuesday.