TRENTON – Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale today announced that he is sponsoring with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. legislation that aims to address the addiction crisis in New Jersey.

    Working closely with the Governor's office on developing language for the bill, the legislation is the latest of many bills spearheaded by Senator Vitale in the fight against the opioid and heroin epidemic in New Jersey.

    "The bill will take a comprehensive approach and will address key elements mentioned in the Governor's State of the State address. I will review the language provided today in the governor's draft legislation and determine if any other priorities that I have worked on with my colleagues in the Senate need to be added," said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). "I want to thank Senator Sweeney for his ongoing support and look forward to moving forward with this legislation together as we join efforts to address the addiction crisis gripping our state."

    Some of the issues covered under the bill, which is currently being drafted, will include insurance benefits coverage for inpatient and outpatient treatment of substance use disorder, guidelines on pre-payment of medical expenses incurred during the first six months of treatment, and imposing limits on the supply of any opioid drug prescribed for acute pain.

    The bill also calls for clear and direct discussions with patients, or a patient's parent or guardian if he or she is a minor, about the risks associated with the schedule II controlled dangerous substances or any other opioid drug being prescribed prior to issuing the initial prescription and at certain stages during the course of treatment. Specifically, the practitioner would discuss the risks of addiction and overdose, alternative treatments that may be available, the risks of developing a physical or psychological dependence on the controlled dangerous substance, and the dangers of taking opioid drugs with alcohol or other medications.

    "We have to commit to a dedicated and sustained effort to fight New Jersey's number one public health crisis, and this bill will help move us in the right direction," added Senator Vitale.