Testimony Relative to Legislation Before The Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee

The Massachusetts Medical Society appreciates the opportunity to provide comment on several bills before the committee related to the treatment of persons with substance use disorder. The Medical Society has made addressing the opioid epidemic a top priority over the past two years, and looks forward to another fruitful session partnering with you and your colleagues to address this issue.

At the most recent meeting of the Medical Society’s House of Delegates, the membership again made opioid-related policy its highest priority, with new policy specifically addressing new treatment models, naloxone access, and medical assisted treatments, including in houses of correction.

The Medical Society is pleased to offer its strong support to Sen. Keenan’s Senate bill 1101, An Act Improving Access to Naloxone. The Medical Society strongly supports removing barriers to naloxone. In fact, at the annual meeting last month, membership passed policy explicitly charging the Society to continue work with relevant organizations to promote awareness of the naloxone standing order to physicians, pharmacists, and patients. We believe this bill, which would clarify a common point of confusion at the pharmacy counter—to which person to bill and what “patient” information should be collected—would help eliminate yet another barrier in the complex policy matrix surrounding naloxone prescribing and dispensing.

The Medical Society also recently adopted policy to support state and county inmates with opioid use disorders have access to the full spectrum of evidenced-based recovery support services, including all medication-assisted treatments (MAT) covered on the MassHealth formulary and transition plans for post-release care. The Medical Society supports Sen. Keenan’s Senate Bill 1102, An Act to expand addiction treatment within houses of correction, to promote MAT pilots in house of correction, and hopes that it can be expanded or combined with other initiatives to promote the entire continuum of MAT treatments in those settings.

The Medical Society also supports expansion of the coverage treatment mandate from 14 days to 28 or 30 days, as proposed in House Bill 2394 and Senate Bill 1103. The Medical Society believes that patients for whom inpatient treatment has been deemed medically necessary, there should not be unnecessary prior authorizations to prohibit access to good treatment. The expansion of services covered by this statute to include medically necessary transitional support services, as included in Senate Bill 1103, is also an important step forward in assuring proper treatment of substance use disorder in the Commonwealth.

The Medical Society continues to stress the importance of education and prevention of addiction, especially in the youth and adolescent populations. This will be especially important given the impending commercial recreational marijuana industry in the state. For these reasons, we strongly support Sen. Flanagan’s Senate Bill 1096, An Act to prevent adolescent substance use.

We thank you for your attention to the positions of the Mass Medical Society and it’s over 25,000 physician and student members.  We welcome the opportunity to work with the Chairs and members of the Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery Committee on these and other matters before the Committee in this session. 

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