Texas House & Senate Name Select Committees on Opioid Policy

Speaker Joe Straus of the Texas House of Representatives announced the Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse, which will examine the use of opioids in Texas.

The committee members include:

Rep. Four Price, Chair
Rep. Joe Moody, Vice Chair
Rep. Carol Alvarado
Rep. Garnet Coleman
Rep. Jay Dean
Rep. Ina Minjarez
Rep. Andy Murr
Rep. Poncho Nevarez
Rep. Kevin Roberts
Rep. Toni Rose

Over the next 12 months, the committee will create reports and recommendations on the following issues:

  1. Study the prevalence and impact of substance use and substance use disorders in Texas, including co-occurring mental illness. Study the prevalence and impact of opioids and synthetic drugs in Texas. Review the history of overdoses and deaths due to overdoses. Also review other health-related impacts due to substance abuse. Identify substances that are contributing to overdoses, related deaths and health impacts, and compare the data to other states. During the review, identify effective and efficient prevention and treatment responses by health care systems, including hospital districts and coordination across state and local governments. Recommend solutions to prevent overdoses and related health impacts and deaths in Texas.
  2. Review the prevalence of substance abuse and substance use disorders in pregnant women, veterans, homeless individuals, and people with co-occurring mental illness. In the review, study the impact of opioids and identify available programs specifically targeted to these populations and the number of people served. Consider whether the programs have the capacity to meet the needs of Texans. In addition, research innovative programs from other states that have reduced substance abuse and substance use disorders, and determine if these programs would meet the needs of Texans. Recommend strategies to increase the capacity to provide effective services.
  3. Review policies and guidelines used by state agencies to monitor for and prevent abuse of prescription drugs in state-funded or state-administered programs. Include in this review policies implemented by the Texas Medicaid Program, the Division of Workers’ Compensation of the Texas Department of Insurance, the Teacher Retirement System, and the Employee Retirement System. Make recommendations regarding best practices.
  4. Monitor and evaluate the implementation of legislation passed by the 85th Legislature regarding the Prescription Monitoring Program. In addition, review the prescribing of addictive drugs by physicians and other health care providers within various geographic regions of this state. Determine the role of health care professionals in preventing overutilization and diversion of addictive prescriptions. Provide recommendations that will improve efforts to prevent overutilization and diversion of addictive prescriptions.
  5. Identify how opioids have impacted the normal scope of work for law enforcement, first responders, and hospital emergency department personnel.
  6. Examine the impact of substance abuse and substance use disorders on Texans who are involved in the adult or juvenile criminal justice system and/or the Child Protective Services system. Identify barriers to treatment and the availability of treatment in various areas of the state. Recommend solutions to improve state and local policy, including alternatives to justice system involvement, and ways to increase access to effective treatment and recovery options.
  7. Examine the impact of overdose reporting defense laws known as “Good Samaritan” laws.
  8. Identify the specialty courts in Texas that specialize in substance use disorders. Determine the effectiveness of these courts and consider solutions to increase the number of courts in Texas.

Meanwhile, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick tasked the Senate Health and Human Services Committee with an interim charge to review opioid policy:

Substance Abuse/Opioids: Review substance use prevention, intervention, and recovery programs operated or funded by the state and make recommendations to enhance services, outreach, and agency coordination. Examine the adequacy of substance use, services for pregnant and postpartum women enrolled in Medicaid or the Healthy Texas Women Program and recommend ways to improve substance use related health outcomes for these women and their newborns. Examine the impact of recent legislative efforts to curb overprescribing and doctor shopping via the prescription monitoring program and recommend ways to expand on current efforts.

Gov. Patrick also named three senators to the Controlled Substances Joint Interim Committee: Sen. Charles Schwertner, MD (R-Georgetown), Sen. Dawn Buckingham, MD (R-Lakeway), and Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin).