Board Actions on Proposed Legislation

Exact bill language, additional information, and the current status of each of the bills addressed below can be found at www.njleg.state.nj.us

June 2018 Board Actions

A3558

This bill would appropriate $100,000 to the Department of Children and Families to create a pilot program to provide animal assisted therpay for victims of childhood trauma who have behavioral health issues.

The Board of Trustees conditionally supports this bill noting that outcomes of the pilot program should be reviewed before extending the program beyond the pilot phase and that the Department should be encouraged to follow proper research protocols when developing the pilot.

S1348

This bill authorizes Physician Assistants and Advanced Practice Nurses to independently dispense MAT under certain circumstances.

The Board of Trustees opposes this bill.

S2530

This bill requires certain licensed health care professionals and health care facilities to screen adolescents and young adults for symptoms of depression.

The Board of Trustees supports this bill.

January 2018 Board Actions

S3604

As one part of more comprehensive bill to combat abuse and diversion of certain prescription drugs, this bill imposes a requirement to check the PMP for first time prescription of benzos and every 3 months thereafter. 

The Board of Trustees did not take a formal position and determined that it would follow the bill and review proposed regulations.

S3515

This bill would create a mental illness diversionary program for certain defendants and requires behavioral health training for police.

The Board of Trustees supports in concept the efforts to more efficiently divert patients to appropriate mental health treatment earlier in the process and authorizes the Council on Advocacy to work with the legislature to improve upon the details such as funding, triaining, and eligible disorders.

November 2017 Board Actions

S3411

This bill would authorize physicians assistants and advanced practice nurses to dispense narcotic drugs for treatment of substance use disorders consisten with federal law. The current draft of the bill allows APNs and PAs to dispense MAT "regardless of whether the …collaborating physician has met the training and registration requirements…" 

The Board of Trustees voted to seek amendment to the bill to require that the collaborating physician be trained.

September 2017 Board Actions

A5172

This bill would eliminate the current requirement that law enforcement seek a court order prior to accessing the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PMP) for an individual.  Currently, law enforcement can only gain access “pursuant to a court order.”  This bill would eliminate that language, but does preserve the requirement that law enforcement be “engaged in a bona fide specific investigation of a designated practitioner, pharmacist, or patient.”

The NJPA Board of Trustees opposes this bill as it would transform the PMP from its intended clinical use to a tool for law enforcement; allowing access to private data without the checks and balances of a warrant.

July 2017 Board Actions

S2650

This bill would authorize pharmacists to fill all refills of a 90-day supply at one time under certain circumstances. It would not apply to controlled dangerous substances and would not authorize the total amount dispensed to exceed the total amount authorized under the prescription, including refills. The pharmacist would be required to notify the prescriber of any increased supply dispensed, and would not be permitted to dispense increased quantities of prescription drugs if the prescriber has explicitly indicated on the prescription there is to be no change to the quantities authorized by the prescription.

The NJPA Board of Trustees opposes this bill because it is an inappropriate expansion of the scope of practice of pharmacists. Any alteration of the number of days for which a prescription is written, should only be allowed with the affirmative permission of the prescribing physician.

S3180

This bill preserves the requirement that State health insurance plans cover essential health benefits.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this bill as it is consistent with long-standing NJPA support of coverage for EHBs.

May 2017 Board Actions

A4468

This bill concerns the early intervention support services program in the NJ Department of Human Services (DHS) and the expansion of existing programs to all counties.  Currently the EEIS program is available in 11 counties-Atlantic, Bergen, Camden Cumberland, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris and Ocean. The EISS is a crisis prevention program offering support for the first thirty days of treatment for patients 21 years and older. This bill is an attempt to provide an alternative to behavioral health crisis patients to visiting hospital emergency rooms for treatment. Pursuant to the bill DHS would be required to gather data for the annual report in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the expansion and identify where/what resources may be lacking.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this bill.

A4707

This bill would amend the law governing licensure of treatment facilities to ensure that patients are not denied admission on the basis of receiving medication assisted treatment. Under the bill, MAT includes methadone, buprenorphine, naltrexone, or any other medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the purposes of treating a substance use disorder.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this bill.

March 2017 Board Actions

S2878

This bill would allow facilities licensed by the Department of Health engaged in the provision of primary health care services and the provision of behavioral healthcare services for mild or moderate behavioral health conditions, to use the same shared clinical space for the purposes of providing primary health care and behavioral health care. The bill would specify the Department may not require separate clinical spaces, such as waiting rooms, entrances or exits, hallways, or bathrooms for behavioral health care patients and primary health care patients. The bill specifies that its provisions do not apply to “procedures or services that are provided for the treatment of severe mental illness, severe emotional disorder or severe drug or alcohol use disorder.”

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this legislation but authorized MBI to work on its behalf with the legislature to seek clarification and definition of “mild” and “moderate” behavioral health conditions, with a recommendation to use needed services and medical history as metrics for determining severity of condition.

S2969

This bill requires insurers to continue prescription coverage for a complex or chronic medical condition if that medicine was previously covered under that plan. The bill further prohibits insurers from changing coverage limitations or assigning that drug to a more restrictive formulary tier. The bill defines “complex or chronic medical condition” as a physical, behavioral, or developmental condition that does not have a known cure or that can be severely debilitating or fatal if left untreated or undertreated.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this bill in theory because a patient who stabilized and/or responded positively to medication covered under that patient’s plan should not be at risk of losing the medically necessary coverage. However, because the bill does exempt medicines for which “the United States Food and Drug Administration has issued a notice, guidance, warning, announcement, or any other statement about the drug which calls into question the clinical safety of the drug,” the Board noted that this language could be misconstrued as to include “black-box warnings,” affecting coverage for an important spectrum of anti-psychotics amongst other necessary therapies.  As a result, the Board recommends seeking clarification of the exemption while supporting the bill.

January 2017 Board Actions

S2703

This bill would prohibit coverage of opioids under medical benefits, Personal Injury Protection (PIP), workers compensation, Medicaid, or State Employee or Educator benefits unless the prescribing provider: (1) has conducted a thorough medical history, physical examination of the patient; (2) has documented that non-opioid medication and non-pharmacological pain management approaches were inadequate; (3) has accessed the Prescription Monitoring Program; (4) the prescribed dosage of opioid drug is not more than 90 morphine milligram equivalents per day; and (5) warns the patient opioids are highly addictive and taking more opioids than prescribed, or mixing sedatives or alcohol with opioids can result in fatal respiratory depression.  Compliance with those requirements would further have to be documented in a manner prescribed by the State Board of Medical Examiners and the Department of Human Services.

The NJPA Board of Trustees opposes this legislation because it finds it to be counterproductive to ongoing efforts to streamline access to MAT. The appropriateness of an opiate prescription should be left in the hands of the physician, not the insurer.

S2715

This bill would establish, in the Department of Health, the New Jersey Suicide Prevention Council, essentially combining the existing Youth Suicide Prevention Advisory Council and the Elderly Person Suicide Prevention Council.  The 19-member Council would include cabinet members as well as public members appointed by the Governor, the Senate President, and the Speaker of the General Assembly. Public members would include persons with expertise in mental health at institutions of higher education, law enforcement, suicide counseling, psychiatry in services to the elderly, drug and alcohol counseling, and mental health in secondary schools. Additionally, the bill would require teaching staff, mental health providers, and public officials who through the course of their professional services, have reasonable cause to suspect or believe that a person has attempted or completed suicide to report that information to the Council.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this legislation because it believes that a statewide suicide prevention plan could be better informed by combining data collection and analysis efforts of the two existing Councils (youth and elderly).

S1930

This bill requires the Division of Parole to offer the same post-release services to defendants who have served the maximum term of incarceration that are provided to defendants who are released on parole, and requires the Department of Corrections to advise these persons of the availability of such services. These include residential community release programs, drug treatment programs, emergency housing placement, and other basic support services.

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this legislation because behavioral health supports and addiction treatment are as necessary for “maxed-out” inmates as they are for parolees.  The Board believes that the ultimate benefit to both the individual and society-including but not limited to a reduction in recidivism-far outweighs any potential cost.

A1469

This bill requires health benefits coverage for juvenile depression screenings as supportive of the principles of collaborative care for screening and early intervention. 

The NJPA Board of Trustees supports this bill. 

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