Monday, May 16, 2022

Nelson files bills to address opioid epidemic

Senator Jane Nelson

Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed a package of bills this week to address opioid abuse in Texas.

“Opioid abuse is on the rise across our communities, from teenagers to mothers, and the effects are devastating,” Nelson said. “We are losing far too many people to overdoses, and these bills offer a strategy to prevent, identify and treat opioid abuse and save lives.”

Every day, on average, 115 Americans die from opioid overdose, according to a news release from Nelson’s office. In Texas, deaths from opioid overdose have increased on average by 10 percent per year since 2014. Below is an overview of the opioid legislation filed by Nelson:

Youth Opioid EducationSB 435 directs local school health advisory councils to recommend appropriate opioid addiction and abuse curriculum for their districts. This legislation is based on research showing that when overdose education is available to the community, overdose deaths decrease.

“Opioid abuse prevention begins with education, and educating our youth begins in school,” Nelson said.” This bill will ensure that our young people are fully informed about the dangers posed by opioids.”

Maternal Opioid InterventionSB 436 expands the Texas Alliance for Innovation in Maternal Health (TexasAIM) program to curb maternal opioid abuse disorder. Drug overdose is a leading cause of maternal deaths in Texas, and most of these deaths are attributed to opioid abuse. The bill directs the Department of State Health Services to build on the current program to improve early identification of abuse, bolster intervention efforts and restrict access to opioids for mothers.

“By growing and improving TexasAIM, we can provide more doctors with the tools necessary to assess, treat and prevent opioid use disorders among pregnant and post-partum women,” Nelson said. “The Legislature has been working hard to address maternal mortality for many years. While we have made great strides, there is still a long way to go to eliminate this problem. I am proud to continue this important work.”

Opioid Antagonists (Naloxone): SB 437 makes it easier for good Samaritans to carry the lifesaving drug Naloxone. The bill prohibits life insurance companies from denying coverage solely because a person possesses an opioid antagonist drug that delays the effects of the opioid until lifesaving care can be administered. Last session the Legislature passed a law providing Texas adults access to a Naloxone prescription. Nelson became aware of a problem after reading news reports about a nurse denied life insurance because she carried Naloxone in case of an emergency.

“Medical professionals and parents who want access to this potentially lifesaving drug should not be denied insurance simply for carrying a prescription that could save someone’s life,” Nelson said. “I am proud to author legislation to address this problem and to give our nurses and other good Samaritans opportunities to prevent overdoses.”

Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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