Gov. Baker, advocates celebrate signing of opioid bill to expand treatment in jails, hospitals

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts celebrated on Tuesday the signing of an opioid bill that will increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals in jails and emergency departments (EDs). The ceremonial bill signing, held at the STEPRox Recovery Support Center in Roxbury, follows the actual signing of the bill last Thursday.

Gov. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts celebrated on Tuesday the signing of an opioid bill that will increase access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for individuals in jails and emergency departments (EDs). The ceremonial bill signing, held at the STEPRox Recovery Support Center in Roxbury, follows the actual signing of the bill last Thursday. Noting the prevalence of opioid addiction, Baker said: "If it's not your family, God bless you and be grateful, but it could be." Last year, some 2,000 Massachusetts residents died from opioid overdoses. Under the legislation, sheriffs in five county jails will establish pilot programs to provide medication for drug addiction to prisoners, including those who had been receiving treatment in the community and those who were not. Additionally, three state prisons and the state Alcohol and Substance Abuse Center will provide medication-assisted treatment. The measure will also mandate that EDs offer MAT when medically warranted. If an overdose patient asks for addiction treatment, the ED will have to admit that individual or refer him or her to an outside treatment program. Also required under the new law are that doctors only use electronic prescribing for addictive medications by 2020, that doctors check a prescription monitoring database when prescribing addictive drugs, that anyone be able to obtain naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription, and that remote consultations be provided for doctors who are treating adults with either chronic pain or substance use disorder.