Majority Leader Louis Greenwald introduces legislation to combat the opioid crisis


Majority Leader Louis Greenwald introduces legislation to combat the opioid crisis 

TRENTON, NJ – Each day, more than eight people in New Jersey die of drug overdoses, a rate four times higher than in 2010. Assembly Majority Leader Louis Greenwald (D-Camden/Burlington) this week introduced legislation to help remove barriers to accessing Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) for Medicaid recipients.

“As New Jersey continues to battle the ongoing opioid crisis, we must remove barriers to treatment for those seeking help,” said Majority Leader Greenwald. “By removing prior authorization requirements for Medicaid recipients looking to receive Medication Assisted Treatment, we can lower the number of New Jerseyans who die each day of opioid overdose.”

This legislation (A-4744), would bring Medicaid plans in-line with commercial health plans, who were banned from requiring prior authorization for MAT in 2017. Requiring prior authorization can delay addiction treatment, potentially missing the opportunity to intervene with patients struggling with addiction. According to data from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, patients covered by their Medicaid plans were five times more likely to be diagnosed with opioid use disorder than those covered by commercial plans.

“If someone is willing to begin the road toward recovery then it is vital that treatment begins as soon as possible. This is the type of legislation that will save the lives of people who are fighting the disease of addiction,” said Assemblyman John Armato (D-Atlantic), a prime sponsor of this legislation.

This year, New Jersey is on track to lose 3,000 residents to overdoses, a record high. Opioid overdoses claimed 72,000 lives nationwide in 2017. Pressure has increased to lessen barriers to addiction treatment, with states like Pennsylvania are waiving prior authorization requirements for Medicaid recipients and Vermont’s “hub and spoke” model of treatment, offering daily support to patients and personalized care.

“Opioid addiction affects every community, every town across our state. By providing better care and more options to those struggling with addiction we can ensure that accessing treatment is within everyone’s reach,” said the Majority Leader.

The legislation was introduced Monday in the Assembly.