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One year of Second Chance Centers in AZ

This week is the anniversary of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey’s Second Chance Centers. They are part of an initiative that provides pre-release workforce services to inmates through the Arizona Department of Corrections.

More than 800 inmates at the three centers received these services and about half of those inmates have gotten their second chance so far and became employed after release from prison.

Learn more about this story by clicking on the story from KGUN9 News:

https://www.kgun9.com/news/local-news/one-year-of-second-chance-centers-in-az

Arizona Department of Corrections Increases Feminine Hygiene Supply for Inmates

Arizona Department of Corrections increases feminine hygiene supply for inmates

10:26 PM, Feb 13, 2018

PHOENIX – The Arizona Department of Corrections says it will immediately triple the number of free sanitary napkins it provides each month to female inmates.

Tuesday’s move comes as a proposal in the Legislature that mandates an unlimited supply of tampons, napkins or pads was stalled after a committee chairman said the prison system was addressing the issue.

Female inmates will now be issued 36 sanitary napkins a month for free and can get more if needed. Tampons are only provided free when medically needed, but inmates can buy them at the commissary.

Democratic Rep. Athena Salman was pushing the proposal to provide an unlimited number of free napkins, tampons or other feminine hygiene products.

Before Tuesday’s policy change, the agency provided inmates with 12 free pads each month and inmates could get more if needed. They could not keep more than 24 at any one time.

There are about 3,900 female inmates at the state’s women’s prison west of Phoenix.

Arizona Lawmakers Hope to Put Dent in Opioid Crisis

Gov. Doug Ducey greets Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs on Monday ahead of calling a special legislative session to enact what is billed as a bipartisan approach to dealing with the opioid crisis. (Capitol Media Services/Howard Fischer)

Lawmakers hope to put dent in opioid crisis

Originally Published: January 24, 2018 5:55 a.m.

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services

PHOENIX — State lawmakers begin working today (eds: tuesday) on a bipartisan plan state officials hope will make a significant dent in opioid addiction, abuse and deaths in Arizona.

“In 2016, more than two Arizonans died each day due to an opioid overdose,’’ Dr. Cara Christ, the state’s health director, said at a ceremony where Gov. Doug Ducey signed a proclamation for a special legislative session to deal with the issue.

“Since 2012, we’ve seen an increase of 74 percent in opiod-related deaths,’’ she continued. “Drug overdoses kill more Arizonans than car accidents.’’

The proposal contains money designed to help provide treatment for those who are addicted. The state already does some of that through its Medicaid program. This package contains $10 million for those whose income leaves them unqualified for that.

But the governor said the measure also has a strong element designed to prevent addiction in the first place. That’s built around a five-day limit on how much opioids that doctors can prescribe to patients who have not been on the drug for at least 60 days.

“You’re talking about really taking advantage of the data and facts that we understand how someone gets addicted,’’ he said.

“When it goes past five days or six days, that’s when the incidence of addiction skyrocket,’’ Ducey continued. “So the objective here was not only to treat people that are suffering addiction so that they can get off it but to prevent future addictions and overdoses from happening.’’

But he said the legislation should not harm others.

“People that have chronic pain, people that are suffering from chronic pain and are already benefitting from these miracle drugs, there will be no change for them,’’ he said.

The governor called the measure “the most aggressive piece of public policy, the most thorough and thoughtful piece of public policy that’s been introduced in years.’’

Legislative Democrats are willing to go along, especially once they got that $10 million for addiction treatment. But they don’t see this as a cure all.

“It’s a thoughtful and thorough first step,’’ said Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs. “We won’t win this battle in one year.’’

State lawmakers actually already are in session. And there is no legal reason why the pieces of the proposal cannot be added to the regular legislative agenda.

But by calling a concurrent special session, Ducey sets the stage to go from proposal to finished law in three days.

“This is not being rushed through at all,’’ the governor told reporters after the ceremony. He said the measure has been in the works since September, with input from members of the medical community, law enforcement, addiction experts.

“And now it will be debated in the light of day in both of our chambers,’’ Ducey said.

“We needed urgency and focus on this issue, which is a crisis in our state,’’ he explained. “It called for a special session.’’

But what it also does is shorten the amount of time for people to read and scrutinize the final legislation — it was still not printed as of Monday afternoon — and be able to seek changes.

There are some potential flash points.

For example, the proclamation for the session says there will be new enforcement procedures to go after doctors who overprescribe not just opioids but other similar drugs. That could raise questions from doctors who specialize in pain management.

Ducey also wants to allow the state to charge companies that manufacture opioids as well as their executives with felonies for misrepresenting the effectiveness and addictive nature of their wares.

And the governor proposes to require insurance companies to expedite authorization for certain kinds of treatments. That is based on concerns that while patients are awaiting the go-ahead from insurers for surgery they end up being given opioids for the pain, increasing the possibility of addiction.

Other provisions include a “Good Samaritan’’ provision, allowing someone who is using drugs to call for help when a companion needs medical attention without putting himself or herself at risk of arrest.

The governor did part ways with his health director on one particular issue.

In briefing reporters last week, Christ said there is no simple answer to alternatives to highly addictive opioids when treating pain. But she said the list of options could include medical marijuana which is legal in Arizona.

Original Source: https://www.pvtrib.com/news/2018/jan/24/lawmakers-hope-put-dent-opioid-crisis/

 

Opioid Plan Aims To Restrict Prescribing, Protect Arizona Patients

Governor Ducey’s Opioid Plan Aims To Restrict Prescribing, Protect Arizona Patients

By  Will Stone

Published: Monday, January 22, 2018 – 11:16am
Updated: Monday, January 22, 2018 – 1:18pm
 

Jay Fleming knows what life is like without his pain medication. He tried it not that long ago.

“I’d hobble around the house hanging on to furniture to try and get around,” Fleming said. “It really affected my quality of life.”

Fleming, a former police officer, lives in the remote, outer reaches of northwest Arizona with his wife and their family of dobermans. He’s been taking opioids for decades ever since a failed back surgery for a herniated disc.

This trial run of getting off the medication, he said, confirmed just how much he still depends on it.

“Most people use them to get out and do things. They don’t sit home and get high,” he said. “It’s their freedom.”

Fleming sees a pain specialist regularly. His prescriptions are tracked and he’s drug tested.

But as alarm over the opioid crisis grows louder, Fleming fears those suffering from chronic pain who have been on opioids for years could become collateral damage.

“I am afraid they are going to restrict them too much. You can only go to a pharmacy and be treated like a drug addict, by your pharmacy, by everyone who knows you take that kind of medicine,” Fleming said. “You can only deal with that stuff so long.”

It’s one of the central challenges policymakers face as they get to work crafting new laws to address the epidemic of opioid abuse and overdose deaths — how to protect legitimate patients while still getting tough on overprescribing?

Governor Ducey’s New Plan

This week, Gov. Doug Ducey and lawmakers will convene a special session to pass a slew of laws aimed at everything from expanding treatment to reducing the supply of pills.

“Our package will attack this issue from all angles, while protecting individuals who suffer from chronic pain, and maintaining compassion for those struggling with addiction,” Ducey declared in his state of the state address earlier this month.

Ducey’s plan already has the backing of the state’s Democratic and Republican leadership, but it’s still unclear how much pushback will come from doctors and their patients.

In a letter to the state last year, the Arizona Medical Association and Arizona Osteopathic Association expressed concerns about restricting prescribing too much, saying that could hamstring doctors with complex patients.

“One of the things we don’t want to do is get in between the doctor-patient relationship,” said Republican Representative Regina Cobb of Kingman.

Cobb, who is vice chair of the House health committee, said more regulations are necessary, but she thinks they must be targeted and based on accurate data.

Cobb is a practicing dentist and knows these challenges firsthand. She recently received her report card from Arizona’s controlled substance monitoring program, a database providers must use every time they prescribe.

“Not all this is accurate,” Cobb said. “I know what mine is. It says it is higher than what I have done. So rushing through legislation without knowing we are correct is going to be difficult to do.”

New prescribing rules are a significant part of the governor’s plan. It would restrict the first fill of opioids for patients who have never taken them to five days’ worth and end paper prescriptions. Most doctors would also be prohibited from dispensing opioids on-site and above 90 morphine milligram equivalent (MME), a level at which federal guidelines recommend extreme caution when prescribing.

“I think there need to be some things addressed. I just don’t want to be going too far. What I have seen from the proposals is that it’s mainly directing at limiting the doctors,” Cobb said. “That’s not all the problem.”

State numbers show heroin was involved in overdoses just as much as oxycodone in the past six months.

The governor’s plan would set aside $10 million for treatment and establish a 911 Good Samaritan law to protect people from prosecution who call to report an overdose.

Senator David Bradley, a Democrat from Tucson, said it’s unfortunate that doctors will have to deal with more rules, “but unfortunately when someone in your profession does something like this, everyone suffers.”

“My response is too bad,” Bradley said. “If it becomes burdensome and people are suffering, we don’t want that to happen and over time we could make adjustments.”

A Focus On Prevention

Dr. Cara Christ, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the proposed regulations are focused on prevention, which is why patients with prescriptions right now would not be affected by them.

“We are not tapering them down,” Christ said, “because we understand we don’t want to push people to illicit unregulated drugs.”

Christ said the state has worked extensively with the medical community to design prescribing guidelines and that doctors will still have the flexibility to treat patients who need the medicine. There would be exceptions for trauma, cancer and hospice patients, among others, and pain specialists would not be subject to the rules.

“We are not trying to limit responsible use of the medication. We just want to try to prevent people from developing a lifelong chronic disease,” Christ said, referring to substance use disorder.

Since June — when the governor declared a public health emergency — about 40 percent of those who overdosed in Arizona had nine or more prescriptions filled in the past year. Chronic pain was also the most common pre existing medical condition for those who overdosed.

Christ said such findings show the need for more oversight.

“We completely understand there is a majority of physicians that are acting responsibly and we want them to still have the tools that they need to treat their patients,” she said. “It’s really the prescribers who are overprescribing to make a profit and are just not using reasonable care.”

The number of prescriptions in Arizona has been going down gradually in recent months, but Christ said it will take years before Arizona sees the true effect of its prevention efforts.

 

Original Source: https://kjzz.org/content/596247/ducey-opioid-plan-aims-restrict-prescribing-protect-arizona-patients

Further Reading: http://kjzz.org/arizonas-opioid-crisis

Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act Outlines Comprehensive Solutions

News Release

January 19, 2018
 

Plan Is The Result Of A Months-Long Citizen And Stakeholder Engagement Process

PHOENIX – Governor Doug Ducey today, in conjunction with legislative leaders of both parties, released the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, a comprehensive and bipartisan legislative package aimed at combating the opioid epidemic and saving lives. The legislation, a result of collaboration between medical professionals, law enforcement, community leaders, chronic pain sufferers, pharmacists, substance abuse treatment experts, elected officials of both parties and more, takes a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid epidemic through areas like expanding treatment, improving enforcement and oversight, preventing addiction, and reversing overdoses.   

“This legislation combats the opioid epidemic from all angles,” said Governor Ducey. “It holds bad actors accountable and gets more resources to our medical professionals, law enforcement, and treatment providers, while showing compassion to those struggling with addiction and protecting those suffering from chronic pain. I am pleased to see the bipartisan support for these important initiatives, and thank everyone at the Legislature and all the stakeholders and partners involved for coming together on these solutions. We must act with urgency, and I look forward to working with members of the Legislature to pass this legislation.”

“I look forward to working with Governor Ducey and my colleagues at the Legislature in addressing the opioid crisis,” said Senate President Steve Yarbrough. “This merits our undivided attention to ensure that we pass a comprehensive package that curtails out-of-control prescribing activity and gives focus to treatment and prevention. Far too many people have suffered the consequences of addiction. It’s important to act expediently.”

“This is an important first step in addressing the devastating opioid epidemic in Arizona,” said Senate Minority Leader Katie Hobbs. “We’re pleased that Governor Ducey incorporated many of our ideas into this legislation, especially the commitment of real dollars to provide treatment for those who are opioid addicted but don’t qualify for AHCCCS or private insurance. We won’t win this battle with one bill, so it’s critical that we build upon this over time to break the systemic causes of addiction.”

“I’m pleased that Governor Ducey and legislators from both parties have come together to ensure Arizonans get the tools they need to combat our opioid epidemic,” said Speaker of the House J.D. Mesnard. “The Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act will get the urgent consideration it needs in the Legislature, and I’m confident it will receive broad support in the process.”

“There is no explicitly Republican or Democratic solution to a crisis like this, so we appreciate the opportunity to help shape a plan that will save lives in all of the communities we represent,” said House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios. “We all recognize that more work will need to be done once the bill has passed, but this shows that when we work together the result is good policy that benefits all Arizonans. Because the Governor included Democrats early on, we were able to bring the incredible in-depth healthcare policy experience that exists among our members and staff to the table to help ensure this plan has a real and immediate impact.”

The introduction of the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act follows a months-long effort to engage stakeholders and members of the public, including approximately 50 meetings held throughout Arizona. Using this input and after conducting a 50-state review of opioid-related policies, the Arizona Department of Health Services issued an Opioid Action Plan in September 2017, which included recommendations to reduce opioid misuse, promote safe prescribing and dispensing, and improve access to treatment. Those recommendations inform many of the proposals contained in today’s legislative package.

Specific policy proposals include:

  • Identifying gaps in and improving access to treatment, including for uninsured or underinsured Arizonans, with a new $10 million investment;
  • Expanding access to the overdose reversal drug Naloxone for law enforcement or corrections officers currently not authorized to administer it;
  • Holding bad actors accountable by ending pill mills, increasing oversight mechanisms, and enacting criminal penalties for manufacturers who defraud the public about their products;
  • Enhancing continuing medical education for all professions that prescribe or dispense opioids;
  • Enacting a Good Samaritan law to allow people to call 911 for a potential opioid overdose;
  • Cracking down on forged prescriptions by requiring e-prescribing;
  • Requiring all pharmacists to check the Controlled Substances Prescription Monitoring Program prior to dispensing an opioid or benzodiazepine;
  • And limiting the first-fill of an opioid prescription to five days for all opioid naïve patients and limiting dosage levels to align with federal prescribing guidelines. These proposals contain important exemptions to protect chronic pain suffers, cancer, trauma or burn patients, hospice or end-of-life patients, and those receiving medication assisted treatment for substance use disorder.

ORIGINAL SOURCE: https://azgovernor.gov/governor/news/2018/01/arizona-opioid-epidemic-act-outlines-comprehensive-solutions

ARIZONA’S OPIOID EPIDEMIC-The Tragic 2017 Numbers

Over 700 Arizonans Died In Suspected Opioid-Related Deaths in 2017

 
Published: Monday, January 1, 2018 – 2:42pm
Updated: Tuesday, January 2, 2018 – 7:14am

More than 700 people in Arizona are believed to have died from opioid-related overdoses in 2017, according to end-of-the-year numbers from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

2017 was the first time state health officials began tracking opioid overdose data in real time. The initial results reveal that there were nearly 5,000 suspected opioid-related overdoses since mid-June. About 15 percent were fatal.

The majority of overdoses were clustered around the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas. Most of them happened inside a personal residence, not a health-care facility or public place. Over the past six months, the number of overdoses reported weekly has ranged from 100 to more than 250. The state aims to reduce the number of overdose deaths by 25 percent in the next five years.

Lawmakers are expected to take up legislation this year in response to the opioid epidemic, which Gov. Doug Ducey has declared a public health emergency.

Source: https://kjzz.org/

ViVRE is committed to helping end this epidemic in 2018, and beyond!

For support, guidance, and information please contact ViVRE at 480-389-4779.