State Senator Jennifer Flanagan will be presented with the Spectrum Health Systems Legislator of the Year Award at Spectrum’s Annual Meeting, held Tuesday, October 14, at the Beechwood Hotel. The award is being presented to her for her leadership in creating legislation to address the opioid abuse crisis in the Commonwealth.

“Senator Flanagan championed this groundbreaking legislation and deserves great credit for encouraging her fellow legislators to support its passage,” said Spectrum President and CEO Charles Faris. “It will increase access to treatment for those facing addiction and save lives here in Massachusetts,” he said.
Senator Flanagan stated, "Having legislation that is supportive of the person who is trying to recover from their illness and better their lives will hopefully prevent individuals and their families from feeling as though treatment is nothing but a revolving door. The law now supports the person who is trying to learn the skills needed to overcome this illness and the hope is that rehabilitation will be more meaningful and permanent."

The legislation was signed into law this past summer by Governor Deval Patrick. Important provisions in the comprehensive legislation include removing prior-authorization requirements for substance abuse treatment, providing for coverage of up to 14 days in an inpatient setting, and giving the Department of Public Health (DPH) new authority to reduce abuse of opioids and emergency scheduling powers to temporarily ban dangerous substances like bath salts.

These provisions will increase access to treatment for those facing addiction and offer appropriate and effective treatment to patients at all levels of care. There is still a rising epidemic of substance abuse and addiction – the number of deaths due to opioid overdoses has increased by 90 percent from 2000 to 2013, according to data from the Massachusetts DPH – but this important legislation is an important step in reducing that number and saving people’s lives.