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Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse releases recommendations

Gov. Scott Walker issued two Executive Orders last week aimed at addressing the opioid crisis in Wisconsin. The orders (EO#273 and EO#274) embody portions of the recommendations set forth by the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse to create a Commission on Substance Abuse Treatment Delivery to study the “hub-and-spoke” opioid treatment model and to implement new practices in multiple state agencies.

The announcement Friday came in conjunction with the release of a report by task force co-chairs Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and State Rep. John Nygren, R—Marinette. Many of the recommendations included in the report are now included in two separate pieces of legislation that have been gathering cosponsors at the State Capitol. While one bill focuses on law enforcement, the other—LRB 5242/2—is aimed at healthcare and workforce. It would

  • Tighten continuing education requirements for health care professions able to prescribe opioids. Modeled after proactive requirements established at the state’s Medical Examining Board, the bill reaches physician assistants, dentists, optometrists, podiatrists and advance practice nurse prescribers.
  • Allow more members of the physician-led health care teams to utilize buprenorphine.
  • Expand Substance Abuse Counselor capacity.
  • Require school boards to include drug abuse awareness and prevention in health instruction.
  • Fund online training resources for social services workers who handle substance abuse cases.
  • Boost the University of Wisconsin’s graduate program in psychiatric mental health nursing.

“Today’s recommendations from the co-chairs of the Governor’s Task Force on Opioid Abuse represent another important step in fighting the opioid epidemic,” said Wisconsin Medical Society President Noel Deep, MD, in this statement. “This positive progress also shows how the collaboration among physicians, policymakers and law enforcement creates a productive environment for frank discussion and agreement on how best to attack the myriad issues we are facing.”

The recommendations are a culmination of the task force’s work with national thinktank experts from the Pew Charitable Trusts—who interviewed health care experts, advocacy groups, policymakers and others—and meetings the group held throughout the state with citizens and advocates about opioid abuse in their locations. Click here to read the report.

Nameeta Dookeran, MD, serves as the Society’s representative on the task force, which is comprised of members of the health care community; law enforcement, including State Attorney General Brad Schimel; elected officials and state agency officials.

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