Although the Indiana legislative session ended a little more than three weeks ago, Gov. Eric Holcomb is still signing bills into law.
Holcomb traveled to Franciscan Health Indianapolis on Friday to sign three bills into law related to fighting the opioid crisis. He was joined by the bills’ authors, Indiana senators Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, and Erin Houchin, R-Salem.
Attacking the drug epidemic was part of Holcomb’s 2018 Next Level Agenda. He wanted to fight it from multiple sides: prevention, treatment and enforcement.
The first bill, Senate Bill 139, requires a coroner to report certain information if he or she suspects the person died of an accidental or intentional drug overdose. It requires a coroner to gather information required in the INSPECT program, Indiana’s prescription monitoring database, to use for potentially preventing future overdoses.
Merritt said at the signing that data collection is important to solving this problem.
“We need to know what the problem is and how large the problem actually is,” Merritt said.
Holcomb agreed, saying Indiana needs to be able to account for the totality of the problem.
“You can’t properly manage what you can’t measure,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb also signed House Bill 1007, which would allow the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration to establish nine more opioid treatment centers in Indiana.
The final bill Holcomb signed was Senate Bill 221. The bill requires doctors to join the INSPECT program and search the database before prescribing opioids to a patient. The INSPECT program shows what controlled substances a patient has been prescribed in the past, who prescribed it and the pharmacy where the patient received it.
“It will start a conversation, hopefully, between the physician and the patient that will lead to better treatment and access for the patient to get the help that they need if there is an opioid addiction problem,” Houchin said.
While these bills make great strides, Holcomb said, there is still work that needs to be done. This will be a never-ending fight for both those who are struggling with and fighting opioid addiction.
He added he’s optimistic about the future. Indiana has shown it has the courage, the will and the resources to fight back.
“We will use every resource we have to turn this around, and we are making great strides,” Holcomb said.