Bill aims to remove barrier to naloxone amid opioid crisis
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s General Assembly is sending a measure to the governor’s desk that would prohibit life insurance companies from denying or limiting policies for people with a prescription for an opioid overdose-reversal medication.
The bill will be sent along to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo after passing the House on Monday and the Senate last month. Raimondo spokesman Josh Block said Tuesday that naloxone is a life-saving medication and that the governor “strongly supports” this effort to ensure no Rhode Island resident is denied a life insurance policy for filling a prescription for it.
Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Democratic Rep. Justine Caldwell, of East Greenwich, sponsored the bill. The issue came to Ruggerio’s attention because a nurse who got a naloxone prescription was denied life insurance in Rhode Island, according to his spokesman.
The state should be encouraging anyone who may come in contact with overdose victims to have naloxone accessible, including people who work in health care or public safety and people who know someone with an opioid addiction, Ruggerio said.
The bill says no life insurance company in Rhode Island can deny a policy application solely on the basis that the applicant has a prescription to carry or possess naloxone. If Raimondo signs, insurers will have to reopen the application process for anyone denied life insurance due to a naloxone prescription.
Merely being in possession of naloxone doesn’t make someone an insurance risk, Caldwell said. Rhode Island has an “open prescription” for naloxone, meaning anyone can obtain it at a pharmacy.
The number of accidental drug overdose deaths in Rhode Island has continued to decline, unlike in many other states. There were 314 overdose deaths in 2018, compared with 324 in 2017 and 336 in 2016, according to the Rhode Island Department of Health.