Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday called for a special session of the state Legislature to take up proposals designed to combat heroin and opioid abuse.
The proposals come from a report released by Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, based on recommendations from the governor's task force on opioid abuse.
The following are the report recommendations likely to show up as legislative proposals:
Narcan in schools: The report recommends legislation that would allow school employees such as nurses to administer Narcan or Naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, if a student overdoses while at school. Current law allows school personnel to administer certain life-saving medications, like an Epi-Pen, with written instructions from a doctor.
Crack down on cough syrup: Some cough syrups contain the opioid codeine. The report recommends legislation to require a prescription in order to obtain any schedule V controlled substances that contain codeine.
Create a recovery charter school: The report recommends allowing the University of Wisconsin's Office of Educational Opportunity to charter a recovery school for high school students struggling with addiction. Students would be able to receive in-patient treatment while continuing their high school education.
More 'Good Samaritan' protections: Included in the 2014 HOPE Agenda bills was a a 911 “Good Samaritan” law providing limited immunity for people who call 911 or bring someone to an emergency room in the event of an overdose. The report recommends extending limited immunity to the person who overdosed, as well.
Enable family interventions: The report recommends allowing relatives to commit a drug-addicted family member in the same manner current law allows for alcohol addiction.
Addiction fellowships for rural doctors: The report recommends amending the state's rural hospital graduate medical training program funding statute to allow grant funds to support addiction fellowships within one of the specialty fields for which doctors may train.
Train addiction physicians: The UW School of Medicine trains physicians focused on addiction prevention, treatment and management. The report recommends allocating $150,000 to fund two new fellowships to train addiction physicians.
More resources to help families: Child Protective Services have seen a "significant surge in casework" from opioid-related child welfare cases, the report found. The report recommends an unspecified amount of additional state resources to help counties hire staff to manage those case loads.
Fund a "Recovery Corps" program: Peer support specialists and recovery coaches, in addition to being trained and certified, have shared experiences with the people they help. Kleefisch and Nygren said they believe the offer the "biggest bang for the buck" and recommend spending $60,000 annually to train 20 recovery specialists to serve at substance abuse and peer support sites.
In-house recovery coaches for hospitals: The report recommends allocating $2 million to fund a grant program for 25 hospitals with high rates of drug overdose care. Those hospitals would hire in-house recovery coaches to help with transitions between in-patient and out-patient care.
Recovery coaches in correctional settings: The report recommends $500,000 to fund recovery coaches in community corrections settings with high concentrations of offenders who are addicts.
Fund Medically Assisted Treatment centers: The report recommends about $2 million to fund three new Medically Assisted Treatment centers in underserved parts of the state. Those centers offer assessment, counseling, treatment, case management services and help with housing and employment.
Fund a statewide Addiction Treatment and Recovery Hotline: The report recommends $400,000 annually to staff a call center and website with trained counselors and peer specialists to help people find resources and help in their area.
Fund a consultation service for doctors: Doctors who lack specialized knowledge in addiction medicine could connect with statewide experts through a doctor-to-doctor hotline. According to the report, $500,000 could fund the hotline and an additional $20,000 would extend support to rural practitioners.
First responder kits and training: The report recommends spending $50,000 for the Department of Health Services to prepare training and resource kits for first responders to learn about best practices when dealing with overdoses.
More money for Regional Prevention Resource Centers: The report recommends giving $330,000 to such centers, which support community coalitions focused on substance abuse prevention and treatment. The report also recommends spending $1 million to fund competitive grants to implement the best treatment ideas developed by those centers.
More training for school personnel: The report recommends $100,000 to provide additional treatment to teachers, administrators and school nurses.
Put Naloxone in more communities: The report recommends $1 million to expand access, education and training for Naloxone in high-risk communities.
Fund health care grants: The report recommends the Department of Workforce Development allocate an unspecified amount of money for grants specific to health care.
Go after dealers and traffickers: The report recommends giving the Department of Justice $420,000 to hire additional criminal investigation agents focused specifically on drug traffickers operating in Wisconsin.
Fund treatment and diversion alternatives: TAD programs are currently funded at $2 million per year over one biennium. The report recommends maintaining that level and adding $150,000 to bring the program to more counties. The report also recommends $261,000 to launch a pre-booking diversion pilot program to give non-violent arrestees a treatment option that "diverts them away from the criminal justice system and into support and healing in the community."
Create a statewide DHS position: The report recommends creating a director-level position at DHS to develop a "statewide needs assessment and strategic plan, work with agencies on rules and policies, work with insurers and Medicaid to improve access to services, speak across Wisconsin on addiction issues, review best practices in other states, and coordinate with parents, law enforcement, schools, and community groups to find the best ways for Wisconsin to lead the nation in the fight against addiction." Funding for this position was not specified.
Organize data: The report proposes $250,000 to fund three staff positions to operate a data analysis center, compiling information on things like 911 calls, hospital admissions, Medicaid reimbursements, prescribing rates and recovery center check-ins.
Drug testing recipients of some public benefits: Walker, in his last two-year budget, introduced a measure requiring some applicants to take a drug test in order to receive food stamps, job training or unemployment insurance. Those who fail the test would be required to receive state-funded treatment in order to remain eligible for job training. One positive test would be allowed during treatment. The report notes that proposal.