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Society supports latest HOPE Agenda bill; requests amendment on CME requirement

The latest Heroin, Opiate Prevention and Education (HOPE) Agenda bill in the Wisconsin State Legislature gained unanimous approval Thursday from the powerful Joint Committee on Finance. Assembly Bill 907/Senate Bill 767 is a product of the latest round of recommendations from the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse, chaired by Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and State Assembly Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette.

Continuing a history of broad collaboration with state policymakers, the Society registered its support for the bill at Wednesday’s public hearing. Society testimony also suggested a potential amendment: removing a provision that would require the state’s Medical Examining Board to permanently establish classes on best practices in prescribing controlled substances as part of physicians’ continuing medical education (CME) curriculum. The legislature has never before set a subject matter CME requirement in statutes, and the MEB in 2016 already established a requirement through the end of 2019 that physicians who can prescribe controlled substances take two credits each CME cycle on the MEB’s opioid prescribing guideline. The Society’s testimony pointed out that statutory requirements on the MEB are unnecessary considering that regulatory board’s proactive reaction to the current opioid and other drug abuse crisis:

Rather than leave these decisions to the members of the MEB who are best able to respond rapidly when specific challenges arise, the legislature is now wielding its power to establish specific requirements in state statutes. State law may not adapt quickly enough when conditions change in medical care, leaving stale requirements in full effect. The Society believes this first-of-its-kind mandate is unnecessary for the MEB—;especially considering that the MEB has led health care professions in proactive continuing education requirements.

The Joint Finance Committee heard similar concerns from other health care entities, but were unmoved. Despite this disagreement, the Society will continue to work collaboratively with the legislative and executive branches, law enforcement and other health care groups in finding the most effective ways to combat the opioid crisis.

Contact Mark Grapentine, JD, in the Society’s Government Relations department for more information.

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