AUSTIN – Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, today filed a package of bills to confront opioid abuse in Texas. Lawmakers may file legislation through March 8, 2019.
"Opioid abuse is on the rise across our communities, from teenagers to mothers, and the effects are devastating," said Senator Nelson. "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. In Texas, deaths from opioid overdose have increased on average by ten percent per year since 2014. The following is an overview of opioid legislation filed today by Senator Nelson:
Youth Opioid Education: SB 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. This bill will ensure that our young people are fully informed about the dangers posed by opioids," said Senator Nelson.
Maternal Opioid Intervention: SB 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," said Senator Nelson. "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. Senator 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," said Senator Nelson. "I am proud to author legislation to address this problem and to give our nurses and other good Samaritans opportunities to prevent overdoses."
Senator Jane Nelson represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.
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