A bill signed last week by Governor Mike Parsons contained several pieces of a bill that was filed by Rolla State Rep. Keith Frederick that passed the Missouri House of Representatives but was added into another piece of legislation in the Senate.

After the signing, Frederick issued a press release to highlight the impact of the bill and the benefits for fighting the opioid epidemic.  

“These important pieces of legislation contain provisions of my HB 2105 and HB 2127, which will increase the physician workforce in our state and will facilitate a very innovative approach to saving lives of those with addiction to opioids. A major news article last year had as its title ‘Turns out there is good treatment for heroin addiction — just good luck getting it in the state of Missouri.'”

Frederick said in the press release that there are more than 2,500 people on a waiting list to get this type of treatment in our state. The treatment, Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT), uses drugs like buprenorphine to help people return to productive lives. "Buprenorphine works by preventing the cravings while not creating a ‘high’,” said Frederick, R-Rolla. 

Frederick said, “States all over our nation are struggling to find the medical personnel to provide this evidence-based treatment that has shown conclusively to save lives. In Missouri, however, we have a ‘Workforce Multiplier’ since in 2014 we created, through legislation I introduced, a new category of physicians, called Assistant Physicians. These are doctors who graduate from med school in good standing and pass their board exams but aren’t able to ‘match’ to a residency since there aren’t enough residencies to go around.”

Frederick said the Assistant Physician program was established to allow these doctors to practice under the supervision of a licensed doctor in shortage areas in our state. SB 718 builds on this innovation to increase access to treatment for opioid addiction. 

SB 718 will facilitate the expanded access to life-saving treatment through the use of Assistant Physicians in combination with other resources Missouri has put in place such as telemedicine, the ability to share information through Expanded Community Health Outreach (ECHO), and our Recovery Coach Training Program. Through commitment and innovation Missouri is leading the way to provide treatment to those who need it, and give them another chance at a productive life, he said. 

The original bill Frederick sponsored was House Bill 2105, with the Missouri House of Representatives. In the Senate, parts of the bill were added to another piece of legislation that was passed and later signed by the governor. 

The bill addressed several issues relating to opioids beginning with simply raising awareness a voluntary pledge for physicians, stating they will “do all he or she can to reduce the harm from improper use of prescription opioids.”

House Bill 2105 also addressed allowing the Board of Pharmacy, along with the Department of Health and Senior Services, to fund a drug take-back program, to collect and safely dispose of controlled substances.

Patient satisfaction surveys will also be a thing of the past under the new bill, which are how hospitals currently judge the effectiveness of their care providers. The language of the bill said they will be discontinued to the extent allowed by federal law. Frederick said this would prevent patients from giving negative feedback to the hospital when they become unsatisfied after not being given opioid prescriptions.

The bill also addressed treatment for opioid addicts by creating and overseeing what it describes as an “Improved Access to Treatment for Opioid Addictions Program,” which will promote the best practices regarding opioid addiction, and help provide resources for those looking to overcome addiction.

Frederick’s bill also addressed creating a seven-day limit on the number of opioids prescribed to new patients, and those with short-term conditions such as high school athletes.