Maine Gov. Paul LePage: Drug Users Who Overdose Multiple Times Should Be Billed for Narcan - NECN
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Maine Gov. Paul LePage: Drug Users Who Overdose Multiple Times Should Be Billed for Narcan

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    Maine's governor has submitted legislation requiring people to pay for a life-saving heroin antidote if they overdose repeatedly.

    (Published Monday, May 8, 2017)

    Should drug users who overdose more than once be billed for Narcan? Maine Gov. Paul LePage thinks so.

    The Republican has submitted legislation that requires people to pay for the life-saving heroin antidote, also known as Naloxone, if they overdose repeatedly.

    "The governor feels strongly that while we must do all we can to help those addicted to opioids overcome their addiction, they must also have some skin in the game," said David Sorensen, LePage's senior adviser.

    The most common version of Narcan costs around $130, according to goodrx.com.

    A legislative committee held a public hearing on the governor's bill, LD 1558, which requires municipalities to keep track of how many times someone has received Narcan, and then "make all reasonable efforts to recover the cost."

    If the municipality fails to comply, it would be subject to a $1,000 fine for each incident.

    "The governor believes unlimited doses of free Naloxone produces a sense of normalcy and security around heroin use that serves only to perpetuate the cycle of addiction," said Sorensen.

    A representative for the Maine Municipal Association, Garrett Corbin, said the majority of MMA members oppose the idea, calling it an "unfunded mandate" with costly consequences.

    "We appreciate the intent: to save taxpayers money," said Corbin. "But unfortunately, the proposal sticks taxpayers with more of a penalty."

    Corbin said municipal administrators do not have the time or money to track Narcan doses and attempt to recoup payment for them.

    "It would be a difficult thing to figure out," he said.

    Members of Maine's recovery community are not convinced this is a realistic proposal.

    "I just don't understand how they'll actually accomplish it," said Mike Meyer, who has been revived by Narcan.

    He said he would pay a bill for Narcan if he had to, but he doesn't think many people struggling with addiction are in the position to keep up with their bills.

    "What are the odds that they're actually going to pay for it? Probably not going to happen," he said.

    Meyer added that people unable to afford the cost of Narcan may be afraid to call for help in the event of an overdose.

    "These are human lives at stake," he said.

    The legislative committee has scheduled a work session for the governor's bill for Wednesday.

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