Lawmaker pushes pharmacies, insurance carriers for protections against Hawaii's No. 1 killer
News Release from Office of Rep Cynthia Thielen, January 12, 2018
Fighting America's deadliest-ever drug crisis – which killed more in 2016 than the number of U.S. troops that died in the 20-year Vietnam War – Rep. Cynthia Thielen has introduced House Bills 1602 and 1603 to battle opioid-related deaths and addiction.
An opioid is a class of painkillers that include fentanyl, hydrocodone and oxycodone aka OxyContin. Fentanyl is up to 100 times more potent than morphine. In Hawaii, opioid-linked deaths currently outpace automobile-accident fatalities. Furthermore, the U.S. now sees a surge of newborns who are dependent on the overprescribed, highly addictive drug.
HB1602 requires health insurers and health maintenance organizations to provide coverage and benefits for opioid dependence for at least six months beginning January 2019. This includes unlimited benefits at in-network facilities; out-of-network facility admittance within 24 hours when no in-network facility is available; and no prepayment of medical expenses by patients during the first six months per plan year of benefits except for copayments, deductibles or co-insurance.
HB1603 requires that pharmacies and any outlets selling opioid drugs must provide a warning label of the risks that the medication carries beginning August 2018. The label shall convey in plain and simple language messaging like "WARNING: THIS DRUG IS AN OPIOID. THE USE OF AN OPIOID MAY RESULT IN AN ADDICTION TO OPIOIDS AND DEATH"; feature at least 14-point font; contain all-capital lettering; and be affixed to the drug container.
"Hawaii's citizens are devastated from the negative effects of opioids and its addictive qualities often lead unsuspecting patients to dependence and death across all ages, income and education levels, and ethnicities," Thielen said. "Like the war on tobacco that we fought at the state Capitol and won, strong legislation, and public awareness and support are the keys."