FLORIDA – A bill to remove the opioid painkiller fentanyl from Florida’s Medicaid program is now headed for the Senate Health Committee.
On Wednesday, Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., introduced legislation to make the opioid treatment-only program a state program, instead of an individual one.
Under the legislation, Medicaid would be reimbursed for drug treatments at a rate of less than 1 percent of the cost of the drug, according to the Senate Legislative Services Committee.
Florida already has one opioid-related opioid-drug program, but it does not provide any type of drug for people who are receiving medical care for other reasons.
The state’s Medicaid agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, also does not reimburse for opioid painkillers.
The Senate bill also would remove the requirement that doctors prescribe opioids to people with mental health or addiction disorders.
The bill would allow doctors to prescribe any opioid pain medication they deem appropriate for a patient.
It would allow insurance companies to cover the drug for those who can afford it, according the Senate bill.
The legislation also would allow insurers to offer plans that include opioids for people under the age of 55, but only for people with a diagnosis of opioid dependence.
As we reported in August, a number of opioid-dependent patients are getting access to expensive opioid treatments, including those from insurance companies.
Florida is the first state to ban insurance companies from covering opioid-treatment plans.
The Florida Patient Safety Act, which was passed by the Florida House of Representatives in July, also allows insurance companies not to cover opioid- treatment plans.
Rick Scott signed the law on July 27, a day before it was scheduled to take effect.
“It’s about making sure that we’re getting treatment to people who need it,” Scott said.
But many people are not being treated for opioid addiction, and it is unclear how this legislation would help the patients who are being helped.
“This bill is really going to allow insurance providers to get more money from people who might not be able to afford the prescription drugs that are available,” said Rachel Minkin, an attorney with the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Minkin said she is concerned that the bill will only benefit the drug manufacturers.
“I think that we are seeing more of a pandemic, and the manufacturers are using this as an excuse to put out more opioids,” she said.
Minkins said the bill does not address the opioid crisis facing the states Medicaid.
“The problem is not with the opioid use, it’s with the access to treatment that is available,” she added.
Florida’s Medicaid has been facing criticism for years for not doing enough to treat opioid addiction.
Earlier this year, the Florida Legislature passed a bill that allowed Medicaid to provide opioid treatment to opioid-addicted people, but a number people have been denied Medicaid coverage for treatment.
A new study from the University of Florida, released last month, found that nearly 30,000 Florida residents have been prescribed opioids for treatment and that the number of people in Florida receiving treatment for opioid abuse has doubled in the past five years.
It is unclear if the legislation is the final step in moving the legislation forward, but many in Florida believe the opioid-prescription program is important.
“If we want to get treatment for people that are dying and we are able to do that, it is important to get that drug to them,” said DeMunst.
This article was updated on April 30, 2018 at 12:06 p.m. to include comment from Florida Health Commissioner David Altenberg.