Evers signs HOPE bills into law

March 04, 2020 3:03 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

March 4, Wisconsin Health  News

Gov. Tony Evers signed into law four bills on Tuesday that target substance use disorder and opioid use in Wisconsin.

Evers said more needs to be done to expand access to healthcare across the state and bolster treatment and recovery services.

“Folks have seen firsthand how substance use disorder—especially opioid use—has torn apart families and communities across our state, and we need to get serious about tackling this issue in Wisconsin," Evers said in a statement. "I am proud to sign these bipartisan bills into law today that are a step in the right direction, but we know that there is more work we have yet to do."

The bills are part of Marinette Republican Rep. John Nygren's Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education Agenda. The four bills bring the total number of HOPE Agenda laws to 34.

“While there is always more work to be done, more lives to save, and more avenues to recovery that need opening, today’s actions are another arrow in the state’s quiver to combat substance abuse," Nygren said in a statement.

Nygren also called on the Senate to act on two more bills that passed the state Assembly.

One bill would repeal a sunset for a law that provides some legal immunity for aiders who help a person experiencing an overdose as well as overdose victims. 

The other would create a Medicaid benefit for acupuncture and increase rates for chiropractors and physical therapists.

The bills signed by Evers will:

  • Allow county jails to enter into agreements to obtain naloxone and training and require the Department of Health Services to study the availability of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder in county jails and prisons.
  • Prevent state employees from being disciplined for using or possessing a controlled substance if they're using it as part of their treatment, require DHS to maintain a registry of recovery residencies and mandate that the residencies allow residents to participate in medication-assisted treatment.
  • Extend a sunset date on a mandate that prescribers check the prescription drug monitoring program before issuing a prescription order through April 1, 2025.
  • Create a Medicaid benefit for peer recovery coach services and mandate that DHS establish a program to coordinate and continue care following an overdose. 

Evers also signed into law additional healthcare-related bills that will:

  • Allow medication or treatment records administered at a recreational camp to be maintained electronically.
  • Allow for changes in the supervision of physical therapy and physical therapy assistant students.
  • Increase the amount of funding for an award grant program for retired volunteer firefighters, first responders and emergency medical technicians.
  • Allow physician assistants, registered nurses and nurse anesthetists to perform official duties of the armed services or federal health services in Wisconsin without being licensed by the state.
  • Clarify that reimbursement of patient-incurred expenses in cancer clinical trials aren't considered undue inducement to participate.
  • Require the DHS to implement a diabetes care and prevention plan.
  • Update state law for respiratory therapists.
  • Create a Lyme disease awareness campaign.
  • Allow municipalities to increase levy limits to pay for charges assessed by a joint emergency medical services district.