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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Debra Hilstrom (DFL)

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Governor Dayton Releases New Report on Minnesota’s Opioid Crisis, Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Curb Opioid Abuse and Save Lives

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

ST. PAUL, MN – Joined by a bipartisan coalition of legislators, Governor Mark Dayton today announced a slate of legislative proposals that would combat the opioid crisis and save lives across Minnesota. Governor Dayton’s proposals build on the recommendations of a new report released today that outlines strategies to address the opioid crisis that is harming people and communities across the state. Building on past actions taken by his administration, Governor Dayton’s opioid abuse proposals would annually invest about $12 million in high-impact strategies to treat and prevent opioid abuse, especially in communities that are disproportionately impacted by opioid addiction.


“Every year, thousands of Minnesotans become addicted to opioids, and hundreds of them lose their lives due to their addictions,” said Governor Mark Dayton in a letter included in the Action Plan. “Our Administration has already taken aggressive steps to reduce the flow of illicit opioids, improve treatment options, and support the people and areas affected. But we must do far more to save lives and reduce the terrible harm to our communities. We must take decisive action in this Legislative Session to reduce abuses and to ensure that all Minnesotans suffering from these addictions receive the treatment and support they need.”


“I don’t want to see other families go through what my family went through when we lost our son to an opioid addiction,” said State Rep. Dave Baker, R-Willmar. “Working across partisan divides, we can continue addressing opioid abuse in our state and help prevent opioid-related deaths. I look forward to working with the Governor and my colleagues in the Legislature to combat Minnesota’s opioid abuse crisis this Session.”


“We are losing a generation of Minnesotans to opioid abuse, with hundreds of lives lost each year,” said State Sen. Chris Eaton, DFL-Brooklyn Center. “We must take action this session to expand access to life-saving medications like Narcan, reform opioid prescribing practices, and improve treatment and prevention services. These broadly supported legislative proposals are important first step in reducing abuse and saving lives.”


“Both here at the Legislature and in my work formerly as a prosecutor, I’ve seen results of the opioid epidemic,” said State Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center. “We must work together to move forward lifesaving solutions. The Governor’s proposal contains important resources to prevent and treat opioid addiction. I look forward to working together to combat this epidemic.”


Governor Dayton’s legislative proposals would reduce barriers to opioid treatment and recovery services by investing in local treatment options. The Governor’s proposals also would improve emergency services through expanded access to life-saving overdose medications, and would support law enforcement efforts to reduce the flow of illicit opioids into our communities. More information about Governor Dayton’s legislative proposals to curb opioid abuse and save lives are available here.


A “Penny-a-Pill” Opioid Stewardship Program

Included in Governor Dayton’s legislative proposals is an Opioid Stewardship Program, which would fund opioid abuse prevention and treatment strategies in every corner of Minnesota. The Stewardship Program would require that opioid manufacturers pay a stewardship fee to fund a comprehensive prevention, treatment, and recovery effort that would curb opioid abuse and save lives. After implementation, the Stewardship Program would raise approximately $20 million a year for treatment and recovery, prevention, and emergency response services in every corner of Minnesota. More information about the Opioid Stewardship Program can be found here.


About the Minnesota Opioid Action Plan

The Minnesota Opioid Action Plan describes aggressive strategies that state government and local partners are implementing to reduce the flow of illicit opioids, improve treatment choices for individuals, and support communities disproportionately impacted by opioids. The Action Plan also outlines new strategies that state government and local partners could implement to curb abuse. The Plan – which was developed by Governor Dayton and his Cabinet in consultation with advocates, health officials, law enforcement, and others – identifies four key areas for action:


  • Prevention – State government already is engaging health care providers to improve how opioids are prescribed and used. The State of Minnesota also is working to improve coordination and information sharing between stakeholders to maximize results. According to the recommendations in the Action Plan released today, the State of Minnesota would implement additional strategies to improve public understanding of the risks posed by opioids, facilitate safe disposal of medications, help young people avoid and recover from opioid abuse, and develop better electronic health record systems.


  • Emergency Response – For several years, the State of Minnesota has focused on helping first responders and community members address opioid overdoses, such as by expanding access to Naloxone (known as Narcan). The Action Plan recommends increasing the amount of funding available to purchase Naloxone, which would help local emergency service providers immediately address overdose deaths.


  • Treatment and Recovery – Under Governor Dayton’s leadership, the State of Minnesota has been working to modernize Minnesota’s substance use disorder treatment system. The system is moving away from a focus on responding to acute episodes, to a person-centered model of care with an emphasis on managing substance use disorder as a chronic disease. Under the Action Plan, Minnesota would strengthen this work by expanding medication-assisted treatment, providing better support for pregnant women, creating new tools for practitioners, and ensuring access to culturally supportive care.


  • Law Enforcement – The State of Minnesota already has worked to improve collaboration between public safety officials and public health professionals to encourage people to seek treatment and reduce the flow of illicit opioids. The Action Plan recommends that current collaboration efforts be expanded, justice system-based opioid abuse treatment programs be strengthened, and a predictable, equitable funding source for drug courts be identified.

All of the Minnesota Opioid Action Plan’s findings and recommendations can be found here.

Opioid Abuse: A Growing Statewide Problem

Opioid overdose deaths have risen dramatically in recent years – increasing 66 percent between 2010 and 2016. Prescription opioids continue to be the most common cause of opioid overdose deaths. In 2016, there were 194 prescription opioid overdose deaths. Heroin-involved overdose death and synthetic opioids deaths also have seen a significant increase. There were 150 heroin involved deaths in 2016, marking a 32 percent increase since 2015. There were 99 synthetic opioid involved deaths in 2016.

Opioids have been especially harmful in tribal communities and communities of color. According to the most recent data available, American Indians were five times more likely to die from a drug overdose than white residents of Minnesota in 2015. In addition, African American were two times more likely to die from a drug overdose than white residents of Minnesota in 2015. These disparities between tribal communities and communities of color and white residents in Minnesota are highest in the United States.