BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts House is entering the new year with new legislation aimed at preventing drug overdose deaths. There are sharp differences between their bill and Governor Charlie Baker’s plan.
The governor wants to give doctors the power to involuntarily commit drug addicts to a treatment center for up to three days if they pose a danger to themselves or to others.
State Representative Liz Malia (D-Boston) told 22News the governor’s plan just isn’t realistic. She said emergency rooms don’t have enough staff or treatment beds to handle an influx of patients battling addiction.
“Even if we did want to do something as specific as a three-day hold, we’re not in any point where we’re ready to do that yet,” said Rep. Malia.
The House version of the bill would limit first-time opioid prescriptions to a seven-day supply with few exceptions. The governor’s proposal suggested a three-day cap. Differences aside, one thing that top state leaders can agree on is that something must be done to overcome the heroin and prescription drug crisis.
Governor Baker told reporters, “Four people a day are dying in Massachusetts from opioid overdoses and the more we can do to move quickly on our shared agenda on this the better off we’re all going to be.”
The bill is still in committee. House lawmakers are expected to vote on a drug abuse prevention bill when they return to Beacon Hill in January.