Bill seeks to manage pain without opioids


Medical bills authored by State Rep. Shane Lindauer, R-Jasper, and State Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, are moving along and must pass out of the first chamber by Tuesday, Feb. 26, to stay alive.

The bill Messmer authored is one he hopes would help curb the ongoing problem of people becoming addicted to opioids. If passed, Senate Bill 162 would require certain alternative pain treatment to be covered by health plans, like insurance.

“This would let people have a choice of going to physical therapists, occupational therapists, chiropractic care, something other than opioids,” he said.

The bill was heard Wednesday in the Senate Insurance and Financial Institutions Committee, and had no objections.

“In previous years, the insurance companies had fought against it because they were afraid to pay for the coverage of that care,” Messmer said. “But now there’s enough statistical evidence across the country that if you get people pain relief some other way, it is immensely cheaper than getting someone hooked on opioids and then having to pay down the road for the treatment of that.”

Messmer is optimistic the bill will pass out of committee by Wednesday, its last meeting day before the Feb. 26 deadline.

Meanwhile, Lindauer is hopeful a bill he is authoring concerning qualified medical assistants will pass the House of Representatives.

House Bill 1652 would give QMAs the ability to administer insulin to patients, which currently is not allowed.

Qualified medication assistants work in places like licensed medical facilities, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living homes. They help nurses with various duties, like administering medications and taking vital signs

Allowing QMAs the authority to administer insulin could be a big help to nurses and facilities, Lindauer explained.

“It will free up registered nurses to operate within their scope of practice,” he said. “And it gives a little more flexibility for licensed health care facilities to maybe cut down on some health care costs in general. They can pay a QMA to do some of the things a nurse was having to do before. And it can help train up the workforce a little bit.”

This would not be a requirement.

“It’s not saying that you have to do this. A facility can choose to allow it. A resident can choose to allow it,” Lindauer said. “And it is still at the discretion of the nurse, who will have a lot of input.”

Lindauer said he likes the bill because it gives adults some choice in their care.

“Residents would know that you may be given your insulin by a QMA. So long as they know that and that they’re OK with it, I’m OK with it,” he said. “As long as everybody is on the up and up and they have the right information, I think they should be able to make their own decisions.”

House Bill 1652 passed out of the House Public Health Committee Wednesday and is on its second reading in front of the full House chamber today.

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