Lawmakers hear from public on Gov. Baker opioid bill

More than 13,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts since 2000

BOSTON (WWLP)—Governor Charlie Baker (R-Massachsuetts) is pushing to increase state efforts to battle the deadly opioid addiction crisis in Massachusetts. He testified before the state’s Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee Tuesday on the bill he filed, known as the CARE Act.

“In the long run, our ability to meaningfully reduce the problem of opioid addiction will depend on better and wider education about substance misuse in an attempt to stop addiction before it starts,” Baker said.

The bill includes policies aimed at combating addiction, increasing access to treatment, reducing prescriptions and enhancing prevention efforts.

There have been more than 13,000 opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts since 2000.

Law enforcement officers and recovery coaches testified in support of the bill.

But some people with chronic pain oppose a section in the bill that they fear could prevent people from getting opioids who need them for acute pain treatment.

“This bill will make opioid pain medication increasingly inaccessible to people with pain and offer them no alternatives,” Cindy Steinberg of Massachusetts Pain Initiative said.

The bill would create a commission to develop policies for “disciplinary action” against prescribers who violate a 7-day opioid prescribing limit.

The bill still has a long way to go before it can become law. The committee will now review public testimony on the bill before taking further action.