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Comprehensive bill to battle opioids dies in Washington Senate, but treatment dollars on the way

UPDATED: Sat., March 10, 2018, 9:11 p.m.

In this March 7, 2017 file photo, Paul "Rip" Connell, CEO of Private Clinic North, a methadone clinic, shows a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone at the clinic in Rossville, Ga. A bill to combat the opioid epidemic with a comprehensive strategy died without a vote in the Washington Senate as time ran out on the final day of the session. But the state is still scheduled to spend millions more for opioid treatment. (Kevin D. Liles / AP)
In this March 7, 2017 file photo, Paul "Rip" Connell, CEO of Private Clinic North, a methadone clinic, shows a 35 mg liquid dose of methadone at the clinic in Rossville, Ga. A bill to combat the opioid epidemic with a comprehensive strategy died without a vote in the Washington Senate as time ran out on the final day of the session. But the state is still scheduled to spend millions more for opioid treatment. (Kevin D. Liles / AP)

OLYMPIA - A bill to combat the opioid epidemic with a comprehensive strategy died without a vote in the Senate as time ran out on the final day of the session. But the state is still scheduled to spend millions more for opioid treatment.

The supplemental budget passed Thursday has roughly $4.3 million in additional funding this year, with an expected $19.8 million in total funds, which includes federal funding, allocated to various opioid treatment and prevention measures.

Gov. Jay Inslee said after the session concluded he was disappointed that the major opioid bill did not get a final vote in the Senate before time ran out. But the supplemental budget does have money to cover some of the programs the bill hoped to address.

The budget would provide the Department of Social and Health Services with $2.7 million this year, and roughly $11.8 million expected total specified for programs like “hub and spoke” networks, increasing medically assisted treatment programs and distribution of the drug overdose medication Naloxone.

It also provides $300,000 to the Department of Health this year for various services including the development of a statewide overdose monitoring system for licensed ambulance and aid services. This would help the state get more accurate numbers related to exactly how many overdoses there are in the state.

There would further be about $1.2 million in funding this year, with an expected $6.2 million total for the the Health Care Authority to increase medically assisted treatment programs and encourage providers to treat those with opioid addiction, and $211,000 this year to supply Naloxone for places like health service divisions, prisons, and to Department of Corrections officers as well as for those with opioid use disorder being released from prison.

Exactly how this money will be used without the bill still has to be determined, said David Postman, Inslee’s chief of staff.

He said Friday that the governor’s staff was still trying to figure out which policies would be addressed by the budget.

“There’s a fair amount of money,” Postman said. “We haven’t got the final assessment.”


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