Arizona Takes on Opioids

AZ_CapitolSpecial Session is now in order

Gov. Doug Ducey officially called the Arizona Legislature into Special Session to address a crisis responsible for more than 800 Arizona deaths since June alone.

It was standing-room only as a broad, bipartisan group of state legislators, local elected officials, public health leaders, law enforcement and first responders rallied around new legislation – the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act – aimed at tackling one of the most significant and urgent public health threats facing Arizona and the nation.

At a time when meaningful, good-faith and truly bipartisan actions seem few and far between, it is encouraging to see Arizona leaders of all political stripes and professional backgrounds come together on an issue that transcends party lines and impacts thousands of Arizona families every year.

Upon unveiling his proposal, Gov. Ducey said:

“This legislation combats the opioid epidemic from all angles. It holds bad actors accountable and gets more resources to our medical professionals, law enforcement, and treatment providers, while showing compassion to those struggling with addiction and protecting those suffering from chronic pain. I am pleased to see the bipartisan support for these important initiatives, and thank everyone at the Legislature and all the stakeholders and partners involved for coming together on these solutions.”

According to House Democratic Leader Rebecca Rios:

“There is no explicitly Republican or Democratic solution to a crisis like this, so we appreciate the opportunity to help shape a plan that will save lives in all of the communities we represent. We all recognize that more work will need to be done once the bill has passed, but this shows that when we work together the result is good policy that benefits all Arizonans.”

READ HERE what the Governor and legislative leaders of both parties had to say about the bipartisan effort.

The sweeping legislation proposes a number of policy changes related to limiting the prescribing and dispensing of opioids; curtailing the illicit acquisition of drugs with the high potential for misuse and abuse; and improving and expanding access to treatment, especially among underserved populations.

A detailed overview of the plan can be viewed HERE.

As public health leaders on the front lines of this crisis, the Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association and our members salute the Governor and legislative leadership for making the opioid fight a top priority this session.

“The opioid epidemic is dramatically impacting Pima County residents, providers, acute care hospitals and law enforcement personnel. According to data from the Pima County Health Department, since 2008 there has been a nearly two-fold increase in the number of ED visits and inpatient hospital stays related to opioid misuse. In 2016, there were 263 overdose deaths in Pima County, up from 210 in 2011. The issue is critical because of the lives being lost and the broader costs to our communities. We applaud the Governor and the legislature for putting a spotlight and allocating resources to this epidemic.” – Tucson Medical Center

Community Bridges Inc. (CBI), one of Arizona’s largest statewide providers of medical and behavioral health care, sees first-hand the widespread impacts of opioid addiction. According to public information officer Stephanie Siete:

“The face of addiction has changed. It’s no longer this stereotypical homeless person on the side of the street. It could be the employed individual. You might see how someone’s performance at work is lacking because they’re dealing with a loved one. A spouse, or a kid, or someone else that is using and going through therapy. It’s just this ripple effect for everybody.”

This is an important reminder that the opioid epidemic affects all of us – and that means we all have a role to play in tackling it head-on. The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association will continue to be a vital and vocal partner in this fight. Engaging with our partners to find solutions to our state’s opioid problem is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!

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