N.J. Gets Anti-Opioid LawFebruary 20, 2017 |
by Michael Catalini, Associated Press
TRENTON, N.J. — Just a day after meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House on drug addiction, Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation Wednesday aimed at curbing the state’s opioid addiction epidemic, taking action just minutes after the Democrat-led Assembly approved the measure.
The legislation curbs initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply, making New Jersey’s the most stringent limit in the country, according to the Republican governor. It also mandates state-regulated health insurers cover inpatient and outpatient treatment for drug addiction.
The prescription drug limit would not apply to cancer and chronic pain patients and for end-of-life care. The legislation also calls for continuing education for professionals who prescribe drugs.
“We are here today to save lives,” Christie said moments after he signed the bill in a Statehouse ceremony. The governor said the five-day supply limit is the country’s strongest, saying “New Jersey now leads the way first and foremost in recognizing this is a disease.”
Christie is devoting his final year in office to the opioid crisis and said Trump was interested in hearing what Christie and lawmakers were doing in New Jersey on the issue. Once Trump’s transition chairman before being removed by the president, Christie has been the focal point of speculation about taking a White House or Cabinet post. On Wednesday, he said his talk with Trump did not include any discussion of his taking on a “drug czar” or other role related to addiction.
“Let me be very clear, we did not get into any discussion of me joining the current administration in some type of drug abuse role, some type of czar or God forbid surgeon general,” he said.
Christie, who is term-limited, is set to leave office in January 2018.
Nearly 1,600 people died from opioids in 2015 in New Jersey.
Earlier this month, Christie declared opioid drugs to be a public health crisis. An executive order he issued also created an eight-member task force to develop a comprehensive strategy.
He has gotten broad support from lawmakers, particularly from Democrats who control the Legislature. The measure that passed Wednesday moved through the Legislature in a matter of weeks.
Some bills wait years before making it to the governor’s desk.