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Hickenlooper Signs Five Bills Designed To Attack Opioid-Addiction Crisis

Posted 05/22/2018

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Monday signed into law five bipartisan bills that represent the Colorado Legislature’s strongest attempt yet to combat the state’s growing opioid-overdose crisis.

The package of laws, most of which come from an interim committee that met in 2017 to deal with a prescription-drug- and heroin-overdose scourge that killed 42,000 Americans in 2016, deal with areas ranging from limitations on painkiller prescriptions to loan repayment for behavioral-health specialists working in underserved areas. The Democratic governor signed the measures at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge exactly one week after he launched an anti-stigma campaign designed to encourage people dealing with opioid addiction to acknowledge the problem and seek help.

While some of the bills were modified during the legislative session to reflect compromise with the medical community and with health insurers, the measures as a whole are likely to finally give professionals a little more aid in getting addicts the help they need — or in stopping some people from getting addicted in the first place.

“The war on opioids will not be won overnight, but today we gain some ground,” said Rep. Brittany Pettersen, the Lakewood Democrat who sponsored several of the measures after watching her mother grow from being prescribed painkillers 30 years ago to nearly losing her life to heroin before getting clean just recently.

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