Amanda Devecka-Rinear, Executive Director of the New Jersey Organizing Project, has issued the following statement in response to the Legislature’s passage of a package of bills designed to expand access to treatment for New Jerseyans experiencing substance use disorder:
The Legislature today acted to support New Jerseyans struggling with substance use disorder by passing, on a bipartisan basis, a package of legislation designed to expand access to treatment. For too long, substance use disorder has been regarded as a crime rather than the illness that it is. Those struggling with addiction deserve high-quality health care, not a cycle of stays behind bars. These bills offer New Jerseyans a more compassionate future, one where those struggling with substance use issues can get the care they need.
Each bill will improve health care access for individuals currently in need of treatment by reducing administrative and financial barriers that lock out too many of us, particularly those in Central and South Jersey who have suffered from high unemployment, displacement from Superstorm Sandy and the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic with less access to resources.
S3491/A5457 revises and expands authorization for any person or entity to obtain, distribute, and administer naloxone. S3800/A5703 requires health insurers, including Medicaid, New Jersey FamilyCare and others to cover the cost of opioid antidotes – like Narcan – without prior-authorization requirements, expanding access to life-saving drugs. S3803/A5495 would permit certain paramedics to administer buprenorphine to patients who badly need it, allowing those suffering from substance use disorder to immediately access science-based treatment and avoid a risk of relapse while waiting to access long-term treatment options.
The truth is that almost everyone knows someone who struggles with a substance use disorder. This devastating epidemic can strike anyone, regardless of their race, class, gender or political beliefs. Our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends are counting on Trenton lawmakers to act quickly by focusing on science-based solutions that work.
We look forward to Governor Murphy quickly signing this measure and getting people the help they need.