Governor Raimondo signs several bills to fight opioid crisis

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several lawmakers gathered at the State House Monday morning, as Gov. Gina Raimondo signed five bills aimed at curving the opioid crisis in Rhode Island.

“Ask any police officer, firefighter, EMT, or emergency room doctor or nurse what the greatest danger they see on a daily basis and they will tell you fentanyl,” Rep. Arthur Corevese,  D-North Providence, said. “Fentanyl is killing our family members, friends, and neighbors at an alarming rate and something has to be done to end this scourge of death.”

Under a new law, penalties for possessing, manufacturing and selling fentanyl are now more strict. Individuals in possession of more than one kilogram of the drug could face life in prison and up to a $1 million fine. Those with more than one ounce and less than a kilogram could still face 50 years behind bars and a $500,000 fine.

Another bill signed by Raimondo requires insurance reimbursement for non-opioid chiropractic and osteopathic treatments for pain.

“With the opioid crisis worsening every day, it is imperative that insurance companies cover alternate and effective treatments for chronic pain, especially in the case of patients with substance abuse problems,” said Sen. Frank Lombardo III, D-Johnston.

A third bill signed by Raimondo requires that health care professionals discuss the dangers of opioid addiction before prescribing medication. Rep. Grace Diaz, D-Providence, who is a sponsor of the bill, said too many people who are prescribed opioids become addicted.