Governor Patrick Announces Recommendations To Fight Opioid Epidemic

Governor Deval Patrick today announced a plan to combat, what he calls, the Massachusetts opioid drug use epidemic.

The recommendations come on the heels of a report compiled in the last few months and includes improving access to treatment.  It also suggests reviewing medical insurance practices to reduce barriers and bridge coverage gaps that have been preventing some people from getting treatment.

Justin McNary of the Greenfield-based RECOVER Project says it’s good to see access to statewide treatment facilities streamlined.

“Right now, I sit down with a list that’s four pages long when I go to try to help someone access services, and that’s a lot for someone to navigate, whether they’re either a family member in that kind of crisis or if they’re a person looking for services who’s in the condition that they’re in when they decide they need those service, being able to get to that through one central 800 number is going to be a huge help,” said McNary.

The report also calls for a meeting of New England governors to craft a regional response. Rebecca Bialecki of the North Quabbin Community Coalition says that kind of cooperation is vital.

“The idea of having governors work together across state lines is really important, because state lines don’t really make a difference when it comes to the trafficking of opioids and heroin,” Bialecki said.

Vermont has been facing its own opioid abuse epidemic, which was the subject of most of governor Peter Shumlin’s State of the State speech in January. The governors are scheduled to meet June 17 at Brandeis University.

Tom Relihan contributed to this report.