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Governor Haslam Announces Plan to End Tennessee Opioid Epidemic

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced on Monday a new aggressive plan to end the state's opioid epidemic by focusing on three components: prevention, treatment and law enforcement.

"This is a crisis that knows no boundaries and impacts many Tennesseans regardless of race, income, gender or age. Our approach will be aggressive with provisions to limit the supply of opioids and significant state and federal dollars to provide treatment to those in need," Haslam said. "I applaud the collaboration and the considerable work of the House and Senate on the TN Together plan, as well as the judicial branch's leadership through the Regional Judicial Opioid Initiative and National Opioid Task Force, and I ask all stakeholders around this issue to work together to achieve real reform and action that will save lives."

The new plan, TN Together, includes the following specifications:

• Legislation to address prevention by limiting supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions, with reasonable exception and an emphasis on new patients. Initial prescriptions will be limited to a five-day supply of drugs with daily dosage limits of 40 morphine milligram equivalent (MME). • Limiting TennCare enrollees' coverage to an initial five-day supply with daily dosage limits. • Increasing prevention education in grades K-12 through revisions to the state's health education academic standards. • An executive order, which was issued Monday, that established a special commission to formulate current, evidence-based pain and addiction medicine competencies for adoption by the state's medical and health care practitioner schools. • Identifying women of childbearing age who are chronic opioid users and providing targeted outreach about risks and treatment in order to aid in the prevention of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) births. • Investing more than $25 million for treatment and recovery services of individuals with opioid use disorder. Services will include an increase in peer recovery specialists in targeted, high-need emergency departments to connect patients to treatment immediately. • Improving the state's data systems to better and more timely identify critical hot spots for targeting resources and increasing information about patient and community risks. • Legislation that expands residential treatment and services for opioid dependence within the criminal justice system and creates incentives for offenders who complete intensive treatment programs while incarcerated. • Attacking the illicit sale and trafficking of opioids by providing additional resources to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation for rapid response teams and, through legislation, penalizing the use and unlawful distribution of dangerous and addictive drugs, including those that mimic the effects of fentanyl. • Providing every Tennessee state trooper with naloxone for emergency treatment of opioid overdose.

Governor Haslam's new plan will include a $20 million investment of state and federal funds to support the TN Together program within the FY18-19 budget proposal.

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