The House Health and Human Services Finance Committee meeting Tuesday afternoon featured the program that literally wrote the book on how to curb opioid prescriptions.
Held over for possible future action, HF3650, sponsored by Rep. Ron Kresha (R-Little Falls), would expand on a program from a hospital in his district that’s quickly gaining accolades for its success in tamping down opioid prescriptions.
CHI St. Gabriel’s Health Family Medical Center in Little Falls would get $2 million in Fiscal Year 2019 to continue a grant program the Legislature funded last year. The Department of Health wants doctors at St. Gabriel’s to help replicate their efforts at other hospitals in the state.
Dr. Kurt DeVine, a family medicine physician at St. Gabriel’s, explained what happened in Little Falls that grabbed so much attention.
Three years ago, he said, the hospital assembled a diverse team of medical professionals to review the prescription regimen of each patient getting opioid medication, to double check if the amount of pills they were getting was really necessary. Since then, the hospital has stopped some 500,000 opioid tablets from being prescribed, he said.
“We’ve shown that you can do this, if you really take the time,” DeVine said.
The grant program run by St. Gabriel’s also seeks to expand access to addiction treatment in rural Minnesota.
“All the addiction doctors are in the Twin Cities, Duluth and Rochester,” DeVine said.
Dr. Heather Bell, another family medicine physician at St. Gabriel’s, said they have selected eight communities destined to get money already appropriated by the Legislature. Each of the health facilities will get grants of either $75,000 or $100,000.
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Introduced in March 2017 by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton) and Sen. Carolyn Laine (DFL-Columbia Heights), HF2470/SF2259, aims to stop the cycle of opioid misuse and addiction through education.
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