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Legislation would help stem rising heroin and other opiate abuse

Proposals would tighten DHS methadone clinic oversight

March 08, 2013

Karen Smigielski

PDF version of news release

Minnesota legislators will consider proposals early next week from the Department of Human Services that would toughen regulation of methadone clinics and improve treatment for people who are addicted. Methadone is used to treat addiction to heroin and certain prescription medications but can be misused. The proposal will be reviewed Monday by the Senate Health, Human Services and Housing Committee that meets at 6 p.m. in room 15 of the Capitol and Tuesday by the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee that meets at 2:15 p.m. in room 200 of State Office Building.

“Heroin and prescription drug addiction is a growing crisis in Minnesota that can lead to tragic consequences – that’s why the Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy named it a top priority,” said Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. “The proposals are an important first step to ensuring methadone can be used safely and responsibly as part of this effort.”

The legislative proposals authored by Sen. Julie Rosen, Sen. Tony Lourey and Rep. Tom Huntley will:

  • Incorporate some federal standards into state licensing laws, making violations clearly enforceable at the state level and allowing DHS to act on violations more quickly and effectively.
  • Require treatment programs to consult the Minnesota Prescription Monitoring Program (PMP) prior to prescribing any controlled substance and monthly thereafter. Use of this tool will help ensure that patients do not access methadone or similar medicines from other sources.
  • Direct the department to seek a federal waiver from confidentially regulations to allow opioid treatment programs to report client data to the PMP.
  • Increase treatment services for clients to help them stabilize and recover. 

DHS Inspector General Jerry Kerber and Assistant Commissioner Dave Hartford are scheduled to present the proposals, which are part of multi-agency package from the Dayton Administration to support substance abuse prevention and improve the lives of Minnesotans. The proposals provide an additional $600,000 over the biennium for substance abuse screening and intervention and $7.4 million for enhanced mental health services in schools. More information is in a Substance Abuse Prevention fact sheet.

The Minnesota State Substance Abuse Strategy and fact sheets on additional DHS legislative initiatives and proposals are on the DHS website.

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