State senators passed three bills pertaining to opioid pain pills this week after Gov. Tom Wolf addressed the General Assembly during a joint session on opioids.
The joint session was held so that Wolf could outline legislation he would like lawmakers to pass during the fall session. Now it is up to lawmakers to focus on the legislation as the fall session continues, according to Jeff Sheridan, spokesperson for the governor.
“We are confident that there will be a package of legislation that the governor will sign into law to prevent this crisis,” Sheridan said.
The bills passed by the Senate yesterday would establish rules for prescribing opioids to minors, add opioid education to public schools and require physicians to take a class on prescribing opioids before receiving a license to prescribe them.
The three bills will now go to the House of Representatives, which will not meet again until Oct. 17.
Gov. Wolf supports the bills, and he has detailed other legislation he would like to see passed in October.
He also is looking at legislation that the House passed before the session. Those bills would require health insurance companies to cover access to opioids designed to deter abuse, i.e., pain pills that can’t be altered from their original form.
The abuse-deterring pills can’t be melted into a liquid and injected, or crushed with a hammer for snorting – two common ways opioids are abused.
With nearly 3,500 Pennsylvania residents having died in 2015 from drug-related causes, Wolf wants to see legislation pass that could help prevent death tolls from climbing, Wolf said in an interview Tuesday with the Central Penn Business Journal.
“We all want to move forward on this legislation. We all recognize the problem that the disease of opioid addiction has created,” Wolf said. “We want to do something about it.”