New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed legislation intended to curb the opioid addiction epidemic.
The law limits initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply and mandates that state-regulated health insurers cover six-months of inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment.
Christie said he’s not sure how much that will cost. “Because you don’t know how many people are going to take advantage of this and utilization is going to drive a lot regarding the costs. But the fact is whatever the cost is of this it’s certainly less than 1600 lives a year.” he said.
Christie signed the measure shortly after it received final legislative approval in the Assembly.
Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon made a passionate plea to his colleagues to pass it, saying addiction is ravaging every community.
“It isn’t a bad habit. It is something that drives some people to the point where they can’t help but commit slow motion suicide. And those people that love them have to watch,” he said.
Christie said the opioid addiction problem won’t turn around quickly because of the legislation. He says addiction treatment is a process and recovery is a lifelong process. “It’s not like in six months from now I’m going to be able to put a report card that things have gotten so much better. That’s not the way this is going to work. We’re starting down a road that may take us five to ten years to really see marked results that are consistent, but we got to start the journey.”