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Vote on Pennsylvania opioid bill delayed

Vote on Pennsylvania opioid bill delayed

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has postponed a vote on a bill that would limit injured workers’ access to prescription drugs like opioids.

H.B. 18, introduced in February by Rep. Ryan Mackenzie, R-Lehigh, would institute a drug formulary for the state workers comp program.

Last week, the bill advanced out of the House labor and industry committee by a 14-12 vote and was scheduled to be considered by the full House Wednesday, but a full House vote has been postponed indefinitely.

“The bill is very much still alive,” Mr. Mackenzie said in a Thursday interview with Business Insurance.

The next step is that the bill could be amended in the House rules committee and returned to the floor for second consideration or an amendment could be offered on the House floor, according to Mr. Mackenzie. 

The legislation asks that “a nationally recognized evidence-based formulary be adopted and we do have in there the process whereby the Department of Labor and Industry selects from those options that are available,” he said.

The bill has drawn criticism from the Pennsylvania American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations who called it “an unnecessary government intrusion into the relationship between patients and their doctor,” the organizations said in a recent statement.

Mr. Mackenzie noted the recent adoption of legislation for drug formularies in California and New York and said reducing opioid prescribing and increasing return to work are goals of the Pennsylvania bill.

“We have seen places like Texas and Ohio where they have significantly reduced the amount of opioids being prescribed,” he said. “In Ohio, they reduced the amount of opioids being prescribed in workers comp by 37%. Those are very significant reductions and at the same time they have found that they get people back to work faster. If we could reduce opioid prescribing which could eventually lead to addiction or death, and at the same time get people back to work faster, those are the outcomes we are looking for.”




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