Legislation taking a direct aim at the growing problem of opioid addiction in Nebraska has been signed into law by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
Sen. Sara Howard of Omaha, sponsor of LB 931, says it is difficult to know the extent of opioid addiction in the state, because state health officials weren’t monitoring it in vital statistics.
“We’re now partnering to update our vital records and insure that we’re monitoring how many individuals are actually dying of an opioid overdose,” Howard says during a signing ceremony at the Capitol.
Howard says the bill will prevent over-prescribing opiates to children and juveniles. LB 931 creates a seven-day waiting period between the prescription of opiates for anyone under 19 years of age.
Sen. John Kuehn of Heartwell sponsors the portion of the bill which requires physicians to discuss the risks of opioid addiction with their patients when prescribing high-powered pain relievers.
“The hearing had some opposition with the medical community,” Kuehn acknowledges. “Because this is really one of the first pieces of legislation across the country which has addressed that physician-patient relationship where opioid addiction starts.”
The third aspect of the bill requires photo identification to pick up an opioid prescription.
Sen. Brett Lindstrom of Omaha, sponsor of that provision, says he’s pleased the legislation has become law, but doesn’t believe the legislature’s work is done.
“Unfortunately, this is not going away,” according to Lindstrom. “This is an epidemic that will keep on coming, but I think we’re taking the necessary steps here with LB 931 and the prescription drug bill that we did a couple of years ago to make changes in Nebraska so when it does arrive at our door, we are able to handle it and focus on how to prevent it.”
The Unicameral approved LB 931 on a 48-0-1 vote in late March.