The Minnesota Senate tonight took a monumental step toward combatting Minnesota’s ongoing opioid addiction crisis by overwhelmingly approving House File 400, the Opioid Stewardship Fund bill. The legislation creates a new Opiate Epidemic Response Account that will invest in innovative treatment and social service programs, improve public awareness, and apply stronger rules to prescriptions and refills. The account will be funded by $21 million in fees collected from pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors.
“It feels like a huge weight has been lifted,” said Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Vernon Center), the bill’s author. “Opioid addiction has shattered too many lives and destroyed too many communities. I’m excited about some of the progress that collaborative pilot programs have had reducing prescriptions and weaning addicts off their drugs, but it is far from enough. We had a moral obligation to get this done. This is a monumental step toward ending the scourge of opioid addiction.”
The fees on distributors and manufacturers will remain in place for a minimum of five years. After five years, a sunset will kick in once the state collects $250 million, at which point fees on manufacturers and distributors will be reduced to $5,000. The $250 million total can be captured through any combination of fees and lawsuit settlement money.
Highlights of the legislation:
- Significant funding for county-administered social services to help kids who have been subjected to child abuse or neglect due to parental addiction.
- Stronger restrictions on opiate prescriptions and refills.
- Prescription monitoring program to prevent overprescribing and “doctor shopping.”
- Public awareness, prevention, and education programs.
- Statewide access to effective treatment and recovery services.
- Traditional healing grants for Native American tribes.
- Continuing education for opioid prescribers.
- Research and development of evidence-based treatment programs.
- Stronger reporting by pharmaceutical companies.
- Funding for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to hire additional drug scientists and agents in the field.
- Funding for the Results First Initiative to hire a dedicated team of data scientists to work with opioid grant recipients to guarantee the effectiveness of their programs.