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Poll: With Overdoses Soaring, What Should New Jersey Do?

Can a new package of bills save lives or could it actually impede effective healthcare?

Drug overdoses have overtaken car crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in New Jersey and nationally. This epidemic has prompted a bipartisan group of legislators to introduce a 21-bill package intended to change how the state tries to prevent and treat addiction.

As might be imagined, the package is controversial, not least because one of the bills would require all prescribers to participate in the New Jersey Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP), which tracks all prescriptions of dangerous drugs. But doctors and others have raised concerns about increased mandates and legal liabilities, while the state must balance potential benefits of treatment with additional costs.

The legislation would also require insurers to pick up the tab for medically necessary addiction treatment and would increase the amount that Medicaid reimburses providers for proven-effective treatments.

But there remains one essential question:

What should New Jersey do to reduce drug overdose deaths?

  • Everything that it can, including working to enact this package of bills as quickly as possible. The months of work that went into the legislation has let lawmakers craft the best solutions.

  • Take time to put together the best solution. This package is interesting, but an issue this important demands that the Legislature and state officials work together to determine priorities and how to balance different interests.

  • Listen to doctors, particularly about the dangers of having too many mandates and too much room for destructive lawsuits. The PMP is a good idea, but government mandates on physicians aren’t. The other legislative proposals merit a close look, and possibly swift action.

  • Press the pause button before enacting a group of bills that will have unknown consequences. The state has a major crisis and this presents the possibility of increased spending without knowing what the results will be.

  • I need to come up to speed on this issue and potential consequences before taking a position.

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