Substance abuse, mental health legislation heads to governor

Several legislative initiatives co-sponsored by State Representative Bill Buckbee, R-67, focusing on the delivery and accessibility of substance abuse and mental health resources, are headed to the governor’s desk.

The opioid crisis has a direct correlation to the absolute necessity of such services and it is a core function of state government to ensure that those protections are provided to Connecticut residents, according to Buckbee.

“We have folks battling intense addiction, first responders ailing from post-traumatic stress syndrome, and too many other instances where the delivery of strong mental health services can be improved to characterize in a short statement,” he said. “It is beyond critical to ensure that these folks have the ability to seek help if they need it.”

Specifically, H.B. 7125 An Act Concerning Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorder Benefits expands the eligibility requirements for one to receive certain substance abuse services and prescribed treatment drugs through their insurer.

This will ensure that appropriate medical services remain available to those in need.

Further, H.B. 7159 An Act Concerning Opioid Use requires the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to review and report on literature about the efficacy of providing home-based treatment and recovery services for opioid use disorder to certain Medicaid beneficiaries.

It also requires the department to educate patients with opioid use disorder, and their relatives and significant others, on opioid antagonists and how to administer them.

“Often, those seeking treatment struggle to find the support systems necessary to keep their progression levels on a positive trend,” Buckbee said. “A major factor in motivating people to break poor habits and become engrained within our society is to provide quality employment opportunities to them.”

“For too long, addiction has been the black mark on the resumes of many qualified job candidates barring them from joining a team,” he said. “I was happy to co-sponsor a bill that destigmatizes addiction and creates a pipeline for those with a history of substance abuse to find work.”

H.B. 5053 An Act Establishing A Task Force To Increase Employment Opportunities for Persons Recovering From Substance Abuse requires the legislature to put forth a task force to investigate strategies to increase employment opportunities for persons recovering from substance abuse.

The task force will submit its findings and recommendations to the Labor and Public Employees Committee before the start of the next legislative session, convening in February of 2020.

As a result of concurring action in both legislative chambers, all three bills are headed to Governor Lamont’s desk.

With wide bipartisan support for all of these initiatives, it is expected that the governor will sign them into law over the coming weeks.