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Whiteford continues to combat opioid crisis with introduction of bipartisan Opioid Opt-Out plan
RELEASE|August 19, 2021

State Rep. Mary Whiteford, of Casco Township, has introduced a plan to ensure health care providers offer patients an opportunity to avoid being offered, prescribed or administered opioids.

Whiteford’s measure is part of a bipartisan package of bills designed to further combat Michigan’s growing opioid epidemic.

House Bills 5261-5264 require health care providers and insurers to make non-opioid directive forms available upon plan enrollment. Non-opioid forms not only allow patients to make their own medical decisions, but also bring patient awareness to alternative options to prevent initial exposure to opioids.

“In many cases, hospitals and health care facilities are ground zero for developing opioid addictions,” said Whiteford, a registered nurse. “Over-prescription of opioids from health care providers is one of the leading causes of this crisis. It is imperative that patients are offered up-front the chance to opt-out of opioid use if they determine that is the best course of action for their own personal health.

“This is a small step we can take that could make a big difference in the opioid epidemic. I’m encouraged by the bipartisanship effort being made with this plan. No matter what side of the aisle we sit on, we all agree that changes need to be made to the system to prevent opioid addiction.”

Whiteford has been passionate about fighting the opioid crisis for years. As vice chair of the House Appropriations Committee and chair of the Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee this term, Whiteford ensured continued funding for the state’s opioid epidemic response in the coming budget year. In the 2020 budget year, she prioritized $30 million for unmet opioid substance abuse treatment and prevention needs.

As a member of the House Mental Health Task Force in 2018, Whiteford joined the task force in recommending legislation requiring drug overdose training for peace officers, medical first responders and paramedics to combat the exponential growth in instances of opioid overdose.

The bipartisan Opioid Opt-Out plan is now under consideration by the House Health Policy Committee.

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