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Proposed Opioid Funding, Reforms Circulating Through Florida Legislature

Dec 27, 2017

Several proposals to combat the opioid epidemic are circulating through the Florida House and Senate.

They include $50 million in funding for resources, and a three-day limit on prescribed opioids, unless strict conditions are met for a seven-day supply.

It would also require all prescribers to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program - which helps prevent doctor shopping.

And while they say that's a step in the right direction, many substance abuse and addiction groups also feel like much more is needed.

They say social services like individualized treatment, peer-to-peer counseling, and other services are typically the first to get cut when funding is low.

Angela Corbett, the Clinical Director at Sunspire Health Hyde Park in Tampa, said if she could write a bill, more money for these services would be key.

"I think the state of Florida can always benefit, just because of the density of the population here,” Corbett said. “We can always benefit from more funding for social services and that's something that those of us that have worked in this field have often struggled with, seeing the vast amount of people that need the help that don't have access to it."

Corbett said that funding could be used to help people who don’t have insurance or who slip through the cracks in the system - like the homeless and indigent populations.

The $50 million would be used for substance abuse treatment, counseling and recovery services, and the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council.

Additional reforms would fight unlicensed pain management clinics - and require continuing education courses for physicians on responsibly prescribing opioids.

“My proposed legislation and funding help address multiple levels of this epidemic, from doctors and prescribers to state and community programs, to law enforcement officers who are on the front line of this fight,” said Gov. Rick Scott during his announcement of the proposals. 

Alina Klein, the Director of Clinical Outreach at Sunspire Health Hyde Park in Tampa, said the discussion alone is making an impact.

"It's definitely a step in the right direction,” Klein said. “The fact that so much attention is even being brought to this subject is forward movement."

Klein also says while the three-day limit is good, it doesn't help people who are already addicted, and who are getting their opiates off the street.

Scott declared a statewide public health emergency for the opioid epidemic in May. The proposals are part of his 2018 - 2019 recommended budget.