Senate passes opioid addiction prevention bill by wide margin

first_imgEagle River Sen. Anna MacKinnon voted for HB 159. (File photo by Skip Gray/360 North)On Thursday, the state Senate overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill which would limit opioid prescriptions from health providers in the state as well as require training on opioid abuse for medical practitioners. HB 159 passed by a margin of 17 to one.Listen nowDuring testimony, Eagle River Republican Anna MacKinnon brought up an example of what she called one of several instances of over-prescription from Alaska doctors.“We heard a story that was heart wrenching of a family that their loved one, their child, had been taken to the dentist and the dentist prescribed 30 days of oxycontin,” MacKinnon said. “Mr. President, that is not a standard dosage for someone to receive.”The only vote against the bill was from Palmer Republican Shelley Hughes — a self-admitted protest vote. Hughes said she thinks the bill has positive qualities, but it doesn’t address the root of the opioid problem, which she described as “pill mill practitioners and doc-shopper consumers.”“It will require some excellent practitioners around the state to be better educated about the subject,” Hughes said. “But, they — I don’t believe for the most part — are not the problem. There may be a sliver of practitioners who don’t realize they’re over-prescribing, and this may change their behavior and that is my hope, but I don’t really think the bill gets to the root of the problem Mr. President.”Senate Majority leader, Republican Peter Micciche said despite the bill being introduced during a session focused on budgetary issues, the opioid crisis extends beyond public health.“Some people want to know why we’re dealing with opioid abuse now with this budget crisis that we’re having,” Micciche said. “And the reality of it is our approach is multifaceted. It’s an Alaskan issue for a lot of reasons, and part of it is costs.”Micciche said teachers often cope with students of families affected by opioid addiction. He also claimed opioid addictions are the single biggest driver of crime statewide.Following the vote on House Bill 159, Senate president Pete Kelly also appointed Senators Giessel, Stedman and Olson to a conference committee about the oil and gas tax credit bill.Alaska Public Media’s Wesley Early helped with this story. CORRECTION: This story previously stated that that Senate president Pete Kelly had appointed three senators to a conference committee on a House income tax bill. The committee is actually on an oil and gas tax credit bill.last_img read more