While the entire country has been impacted by this ongoing issue, more options for prevention and treatment have become paramount to changing the tides. Just this week Rick Scott, the governor of the state of Florida, proposed a strategy for fighting the opioid epidemic that has gained a lot of attention. Scott has decided to ask local lawmakers to impose a three-day limit on opioid prescriptions during the upcoming legislative session. This latest development is one new piece of recent initiatives to combat the opioid crisis.
Florida Governor Opioid Initiatives
During two press conferences on Tuesday, the Florida Governor announced a pushback on an abundance of opioid prescriptions, while also introducing other ideas for fighting addiction.
One of the initiatives Rick Scott is pushing is to require all health-care professionals who prescribe controlled substances to participate in the Florida Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, also known as the PDMP. This database involves health-care professionals to report important information on patients receiving powerful narcotic medications, including:
- Name of the doctor
- Patient name
- Prescription information after the prescription is filled
But this is not the last of Florida Governor Scott’s opioid initiatives. His office also plans to seek additional reforms such as:
- Fight unlicensed pain management clinics
- Requiring education on responsible opioid prescribing
- Creating more opportunities for federal grants
Scott apparently plans to put some more investments toward helping those already struggling. He is also pushing for more than $50 million for services including:
Part of this initiative is also boosting up the budget of the Florida Violent Crime and Drug Control Council.
At the moment the finer details of the Florida Governor’s proposals are not yet available. However, what it does tell us is that Scott is not ignoring the contribution Big Pharma makes in this current crisis. What we can tell from this outline is that Rick Scott says he is aiming to address prescription opioid pain medication, recognizing it as a key source of the growing problem.
Why 3 Days?
It has been reported time and time again that we should be paying attention to how powerful opioid medications impact rising addiction rates. Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a recent study showing how quickly someone could get hooked on these kinds of drugs. In this study it is shown:
- After three days of use, about 6% of patients were still using opioids a year later.
- Five days into use, about 10% of patients were still using opioids a year later.
- After 11 days of use, it jumps to 25% of patients still taking opioids a year later.
So it would seem that between 3-5 days, the chances of continued use almost doubled. Then between 5-11 days the chances of use more than doubled. This development may have helped inspire the idea to limit prescriptions to 3 days.
Back in March, Bradley Martin of the CDC, one of the study authors, told Vox magazine:
“There’s nothing magical about five days versus six days, but with each day your risk of dependency increases fairly dramatically,”
So while day 5 and day 6 may not be a dramatic leap over the edge, some may see this proposed limit as an attempt to at least slow a process down.
The Opposing Argument
The Florida Governor will probably face strong criticism, or at least skepticism, from crowds such as:
The opposition is still very real. This isn’t even the first time Florida lawmakers have seen something like this brought to the table. Just last year Florida legislatures quietly rejected an effort last year to impose a five-day cap on opioid prescriptions for acute pain.
Legislatures and doctors are the only concerns Florida Governor may have to tangle with in order to push this idea through. Other potential obstacles standing against this proposal include:
- Additional out-of-pocket co-pays that patients will incur
- The ability of patients with chronic pain and terminal illnesses to refill prescriptions
The Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians will discuss caps on prescriptions during a board meeting today. Dr. Sanford Silverman is a past president of the Florida Society of Interventional Pain Physicians. In regards to the 3 day limit he stated:
“We don’t think the cap is reasonable since it is a completely arbitrary number,”
“A better idea would be to mandate usage of the PDMP prior to writing an opioid for acute pain.”
Other states have created caps on prescriptions, although some may not seem as strict as the 3 day rule.
- Massachusetts limits the supply to seven days.
- New Jersey set it so that first-time prescriptions for acute pain cannot exceed a five-day supply. Also, patients being treated for cancer or under hospice care are exempt.
- Ohio caps distinguish between patients with chronic pain and those with acute pain.
At the end of the day, similar strategies may not be left up to the lawmakers. If pharmacies decide to impose their own limits on certain prescription drugs the Florida Governor might not have to push very hard to get the limits he is looking for.
CVS announced Friday that the company plans to:
- Limit the daily dosage of pain pills based on their strength
- Require the use of quick-release painkillers before extended-release opioids are dispensed
- Limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions
This restriction will specifically apply to patients who are new to pain therapy.
Only time will tell how far Florida Governor Rick Scott’s new pitch will go, but it seems one thing people can agree on is that the opioid crisis does require some new approaches to prevention.
With more prevention we may be able to slow down the rising rates of opioid addiction. Meanwhile, the need for safe and effective treatment still means a lot for helping those already suffering. Real treatment resources matter. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Back in 2011 the state of Florida started requiring urine tests for welfare applicants and state workers to screen for drugs. While the policy did not last long initially, it has a continued effect on the state’s financial spending as politicians fought long and hard for its reinstatement. This week it was reported that Florida Governor Rick Scott will actually not be looking to a U.S. Supreme Court to review the law, seemingly giving up on the fight for the cause that would have required applicants for welfare benefits to submit to mandatory drug testing.
The Failed Law
The law had evolved into a top priorities of the Republican governor’s first term, but was ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts not too long after being launched. The program only operated for around 3 months before federal courts halted the progression of these policies on grounds that the program was in violation of Florida resident’s constitutional rights.
Once the program had first passed it quickly prompted a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Navy veteran who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits as a single father while working to complete his college degree, and so began a long battle for the law to regain its footing.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of Luis Lebron, and later the 11th Circuit found that only about 2.6% of Florida welfare applicants failed the drug test doled out by the law during the few months it was in effect, almost half for marijuana use.
According to the ACLU, Governor Scott and his administration collectively spent an estimated $400,000 of Florida’s budget in attempt to defend the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. In response to a records request from Florida ACLU, Scott’s administration divulged that it had spent over $381,654 trying to appeal for these programs to be allowed to continue as of May 2014.
Passing Judgment on the Program
Howard Simon, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director, said that due to the failure of the appeals to be processed by the deadline, the rulings of the lower courts invalidating the 2011 law will stand. Simon also passed his judgment by speaking out against the law as discriminating against the poor, and went on to state:
“After nearly four years of litigation, this ugly attack on poor Floridians has finally come to an end. This law was always about scoring political points on the backs of Florida’s poor and treating them like suspected criminals without suspicion or evidence.”
U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven in Orlando originally declared the law to be an unconstitutional search and seizure, a ruling that would be later upheld in December by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Scriven and the appeals judges found no evidence of a pervasive drug problem among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program applicants. This after the Scott administration had filed a 72 page brief to an appeals court in Atlanta in attempt to over-rule a lower court’s decision.
Scott’s administration had until a Tuesday deadline to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case, but chose not to do so. Scott spokeswoman Jackie Schutz stated in an email,
“We chose not to appeal this case. The governor is continuing to protect Florida children any way he can and create an environment where families can get jobs so they are able to pursue their dreams in safe communities.”
Scott’s drug-testing priorities did not end with the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs. He was also fighting for an executive order requiring random drug tests for thousands of state workers.
Not unlike the other legislation, this order was struck down by a Miami federal judge. But this time Scott was not down for the count. It turns out the 11th Circuit made a compromise and reversed part of that ruling, concluding that some categories of workers in sensitive occupations could be reasonably subjected to drug tests. At the moment Florida state officials and a union representing many of them are currently working toward an arrangement that would classify those categories, which would again need to go before a federal judge before going into effect and being enforced.
All in all the concept of accountability has not been completely lost in the process. While it is completely understandable why some would want those who are receiving benefits from the government to be screened for substance abuse to make sure the right money is going to the right place, others still believe that while accountability is important, their constitutional right to privacy supersedes that opinion on whether or not drug use should determine who ‘deserves’ the assistance.
Is this program worth fighting for any longer, or has Florida already spent enough on a program that doesn’t seem worth the effort? While politicians work toward combating drug abuse, the fight against addiction still exists and the right treatment can mean the difference between life and death. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
The state of Florida started requiring urine tests back in 2011 for welfare applicants and state workers to screen for drugs, which did not last long but has a continued effect on the states financial spending as politicians fight for it’s reinstatement. The program only operated for around 3 months before federal courts halted the progression of these policies on grounds that the program was in violation of Florida residents constitutional rights. Florida Governor Rick Scott has been pushing this envelope unsuccessfully since the program passed, quickly prompting a lawsuit filed on behalf of a Navy veteran who applied for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits as a single father while working to complete his college degree.
Bleeding the Budget
Governor Scott argued that drug testing welfare applicants would save the state money. However according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Governor Scott and his administration have collectively spent $400,000 of Florida’s budget in attempt to defend the Welfare Recipients Drug Testing programs he has been trying to establish. In response to a records request from Florida ACLU, the governor’s administration disclosed it had spent over $381,654 trying to appeal for these programs. Has this program become not just questionable but unreasonably costly for the population of Florida?
In just the few months the state actively screened all those seeking aid under the TANF program for possible drug use, the rate of positive results was so astoundingly low, it is estimated the cost of the materials for the tests and to administer them likely offset the savings of denied benefits drastically, which compels citizens to wonder what logic Governor Scott has based his theory of saving the state money. Is it safe to say that too much taxpayer money was already wasted on creating and enforcing these programs, and now nearly another half a million dollars is being put into defending the program?
According to The Courts
According to Shalini Goel Agarwal- Staff Attorney for the Florida ACLU several courts have heard the case presented by the Florida governor claiming that the state has the power to force people to submit bodily fluids for government inspection. The Scott administration recently filed a 72 page brief to an appeals court in Atlanta in attempt to over-rule a lower court’s decision that demanding the urine of applicants to the TANF falls under the category of unreasonable search as protected under the U.S. Constitution, being that without suspicion of wrong-doing these drug scenes are being wrongfully administered.
In recent months many other state Republicans have also pursued possibly drug testing welfare applicants, but following the Scott’s embarrassing losses in federal court, they opted for suspicion-based testing programs rather than testing everyone who asks for help. Scott’s latest welfare testing appeal is still pending, but there should be no surprise if this also fails to pass. A lower court ruled that blanket urinalysis of state workers, meanwhile, violated their constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court refused to even hear Scott’s appeal of that ruling in April. Governor Scott’s spokesman John Tupps has recently defended the testing system, stating-
“Governor Scott will continue to fight for Florida taxpayers, who deserve a drug-free state workforce, and for Florida’s children, who deserve to live in drug-free homes.”
The only question is, how much is this costing the people of the Florida workforce and the impoverished families of Florida in what seems to be a less than effective way of regulating financial assistance?
If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
What’s up with Florida politicians behaving badly in recent news? For those of you who are perhaps more jaded than the rest, it might not be a surprise to hear that politicians are people, too, meaning that they make mistakes and get caught up in political and sex scandals. But lately it seems like the trendy scandal amongst disgraced politicians is to get caught with buying and selling drugs.
Florida Congressman Trey Radel has taken a leave of absence from the House until the end of the year and has entered drug rehab after being arrested for possession of cocaine.
Radel was caught up in a federal drug sting last month after buying the drug from an undercover agent in Washington, D.C. The charge is particularly ironic because he had taken public policy stances that included asking welfare recipients to pass a drug test to make them eligible for food stamps. Radel has given no indication that he will step down, even though his fellow Republicans have started to call for his resignation.
Radel apologized, admitted he had a problem but said he would stay in office while on his way to rehab.
Five days before the Republicans called on him to step down, Radel was sentenced to probation in a Washington, D.C. court for buying 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover agent. He kept the Oct. 29 bust secret until news broke the morning before his court appearance. Mr. Radel said last week he was taking a leave of absence from Congress to enter a rehabilitation program after he pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a sting operation in which federal authorities arrested him outside a Dupont Circle restaurant after he purchased the cocaine from an undercover officer.
It’s of particular irony because Florida Gov. Rick Scott, an anti-drug conservative and Naples resident is represented by Congressman Radel.
But Trey Radel isn’t the only Florida politician involved in a drug scandal this month. Mayor Barry Layne Moore of Hampton, FL was also recently arrested for selling and possession of oxycodone. The 51-year-old is currently being held in a local jail in lieu of $45,000 bail.
Local officials have called for Moore to step down from office but he has shown no indication that he plans on doing so. And this isn’t the first time Moore has found himself in trouble with the law. In October of 2012, he was arrested and charged with battery, and two months later he was booked with a probation violation for the same crime. In 2005, he was arrested – but not charged – with battery, and in 2011 he had three moving traffic violations with fines totaling $1,000.
And this isn’t just a trend in Florida, or just in the States even. You probably heard about the Toronto mayor, Mayor Rob Ford, who recently admitted to smoking crack cocaine – after supposedly being caught doing so on video. Like Moore and Radel, Ford isn’t going anywhere – he is committed to continuing on as mayor.