Gov. Charlie Baker is urging lawmakers to approve further steps aimed at curbing the opioid addiction scourge that has claimed thousands of lives in Massachusetts in recent years.
A legislative committee holds a hearing Tuesday on a bill filed by Baker. The Republican governor says it will help assure access to specialized treatment for people suffering from addiction.
The legislation would authorize police officers and medical professionals to bring high-risk individuals to substance abuse treatment centers, even against their will, for up to 72 hours.
The bill seeks to establish standards for credentialing "recovery coaches," who help people to overcome addiction and to allow all pharmacies to carry the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone.
In addition, the bill also encourages broader use of naloxone by guaranteeing that practitioners who prescribe and pharmacists who dispense naloxone in good faith will be protected from criminal or civil liability.
Baker's bill seeks to expand educational efforts through the STEP Act which introduced requirements that every school district in the Commonwealth develop effective substance use prevention and misuse education programming and that schools adopt an individualized assessment tool to screen students for substance use disorders.
"This legislation creates a trust fund to help finance the expansion of educational and intervention programs, to support the development of information systems that can help identify students at risk and track outcomes, and to support the implementation of new, school-based models for coordinated support of students in need," Baker wrote in the proposal.
Baker says the legislation builds on a wide-ranging opioid abuse law he signed in 2016.