Opioids and Public Health on Physicians' 2017 Legislative Agenda

Opioid-related legislation will focus mainly on mandated prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) use but also on physician education, substance-use disorder treatment, and guidelines or restrictions on prescribing controlled substances

The American Medical Association's annual State Legislative Strategy Conference held earlier this month in Amelia Island, Fla., concluded with physician leaders agreeing the top issues to address with state legislators during 2017 include the opioid epidemic and strengthening public health, AMA Wire Staff Writer Troy Parks reported.

Strengthening Medicaid is one key topic, with many states preparing for debates this year about the future of Medicaid expansion and state medical associations seeking responsible Medicaid reforms that improve patient access and quality of care, Parks reported.

Others include reducing the U.S. opioid epidemic and advancing physician-led team-based care. Legislation will focus mainly on mandated prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) use but also on physician education, substance-use disorder treatment, and guidelines or restrictions on prescribing controlled substances, Parks explained, adding that more access to naloxone and stronger Good Samaritan policies for anyone who aids someone experiencing an overdose are on the agenda.

AMA's Advocacy Resource Center tracked more than 450 scope-of-practice bills in 2016 that included provisions to establish a framework for physician-led team-based care, and several states will consider AMA model legislation, he wrote.

The public health efforts will concern vaccines, firearm safety, reproductive health, and other issues. "Assaults on the patient-physician relationship will continue in many states with legislation that attempts to decide what can and cannot be discussed in the exam room," Parks reported. "A number of states, including Iowa, Indiana, South Dakota, Vermont and Washington, aim to join California and Hawaii in raising the minimum purchasing age for tobacco products to 21. Missouri will attempt to ban texting while driving and fight against a repeal of the state’s helmet laws. State and national medical societies will be targeting a long list of additional issues such as diabetes prevention, decreasing cardiovascular disease, infectious disease prevention, obesity, student-athlete concussion and cardiac laws, women’s reproductive rights, tanning restrictions for minors and many others."

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