A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kim Moser: Preventing substance use and addiction; legislature passed several initiatives that matter

Without a doubt, the opioid epidemic has taken a devastating toll on our state. It is an urgent and pressing health crisis that impacts our people’s quality of life and our state’s ability to reach our potential.

We are not alone, as more than 100,000 Americans died of a drug overdose last year alone. Kentucky’s overdose deaths skyrocketed last year, fueled by the increased use of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that can be deadly even in very small amounts. In 2021, 2,250 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses, an almost 15% increase from the previous year, with fentanyl identified in 1,639% or 72.8% of the deaths, according to the state’s annual Overdose Fatality Report released earlier this week.

During the 2022 Regular Session, the General Assembly passed several initiatives to prevent substance use and addiction:

Dalton’s Law – Trafficking – HB 215 enhances the penalty for importing carfentanil, fentanyl, or fentanyl derivatives to a Class C Felony. There are dangers not only the users but to innocent bystanders, EMTs, paramedics, firefighters, and police officers who respond to the scenes of drug overdoses. The measure increases time served for both the importing and the aggravated trafficking of fentanyl and related substances from a minimum of 50 percent served to a minimum of 85 percent.  
Substance Abuse Intervention – HB 362
seeks to expand access to substance use disorder treatment by updating Casey’s Law. The bill allows for cross-examination of health care professions performing the evaluation and court ordered treatment to be issued if the court finds proof beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Rep. Kim Moser

Casey’s Law has helped over 6,000 people across the Commonwealth since it was enacted in 2004. It is a very successful program, and HB 362 helps make it even better. We strengthened Casey’s Law and its constitutionality by updating the burden of proof.

The measure ensures more people will have access to life-saving treatments for their substance abuse disorder.
Prescription Digital Therapeutics in Substance Abuse Treatment – HJR 28 directs the Kentucky Department for Medicaid Services to request federal guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for Medicaid coverage on prescription digital therapeutics. Digital therapeutics are treatments or therapies that utilize digital and often internet-based health technologies to spur changes in patient behavior.
Opioid Antagonist– SB 56 defines an opioid antagonist as naloxone or any Food and Drug Administration-approved opioid antagonist designed to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

This adjustment was necessary to allow for new opioid antagonist medications for patients experiencing an opioid overdose as they come to market.

We also passed three key pieces of legislation to address this crisis during the 2021 Regular Session and we are beginning to see these policies implemented by the executive branch.

HB 7 establishes a Kentucky Recovery Ready Community Certification Program for cities and counties. The purpose of the certification program is to provide a quality measure of a city or county’s recovery programs to assure the availability of high-quality recovery programs for those working to overcome substance use disorder, as well as to ensure resources are used effectively throughout the state. We learned this week that Volunteers of America will be working to administer this program and I am hopeful to see it up and working soon.

Another measure we passed was SB 51, which increases immediate access to lifesaving treatment. The measure eliminates the need for prior authorization before treatment with methadone, buprenorphine, or naltrexone can be used to treat a substance abuse. SB 51 also requires insurers to annually report the number and type of providers that have prescribed medication for addiction treatment to insured individuals in order to provide a better idea of how this treatment is used.

Lastly, HB497 requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to issue a released prisoner the documentation of his or her criminal history, institutional history, or other relevant information. The DOC will also give inmates a certificate of employability upon their release and will be required to report the number of certificates provided to inmates. This measure is an integral part of helping prisoners successfully reintegrate into society upon their release and put an end to the cycle of relapse and recidivism.

We will continue our work to increase access to prevention and treatment services. In the meantime, if you or anyone you know is seeking help please visit findhelpnowky.org or call 1-833-8KY-HELP. The hotline can provide information on a variety of services and help identify the best next step to recovery.

As always, I hope you will feel free to contact me with any questions or issues. I can be reached here at home anytime or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. Please feel free to email me at Kimberly.Moser@lrc.ky.gov. If you would like more information about any of these committees or legislative actions, you can visit the Legislative Research Commission website at legislature.ky.gov.

Rep. Kimberly Moser is a member of the state legislature from Northern Kentucky.

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