Baker, Hassan to pitch Mass. opioid approach as ‘national model’

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BOSTON — Key components of a new Massachusetts opioid law will be part of a “national model” for addiction prevention that Gov. Charlie Baker and his New Hampshire counterpart plan to recommend to governors from across the country, Baker said Thursday.

During a New England Council breakfast at the Seaport Hotel, Baker said he and Gov. Maggie Hassan plan to include a limit on new opioid prescriptions in a proposal they will present to the National Governors Association.

Baker, a Republican, and Hassan, a Democrat, are the chair and vice chair of the association’s Health and Human Services Committee.

The law Baker signed in March limited first-time opiate prescriptions and all opiate prescriptions for minors to a seven-day supply.

When he signed the bill, Baker called the legislation “the most comprehensive measure in the country to combat opioid addiction” and said its provisions could serve as a “template” for other states.

On Tuesday, Baker and Hassan joined the other four New England governors for a forum on opioids at Harvard Medical School.

“This is something where all the governors are in with both feet,” Baker said Thursday. Their legislatures for the most part are also in, but it’s going to take a huge lift on the part of everybody else, and especially the medical community, to get to where need to go to deal with this terrible crisis,” he said.

Baker said the other New England governors are “pursuing” their versions of what he described as a “first-in-the-nation-deal here in Massachusetts” — an agreement by administrators at the state’s medical, nursing and dental schools to incorporate courses on opioids and pain management into their core curricula.

The training requirement was incorporated in the recent law, and Baker praised the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Dental Society and nursing community for their support.

“This will be part of the national model we’ll be presenting to the NGA as well,” Baker said. “There ought to be an in-service education requirement on a going forward basis for anybody who’s a prescriber because frankly when you talk to a lot of the folks on the prescribing end of this, they’ll be the first to admit that they do not feel like they have as much information as they should have about what the best practice and the right balance is.”

— Written by Katie Lannan

Copyright State House News Service