SB23-144 Prescription Drugs for Chronic Pain Fact Sheet –Sponsor: Senator Ginal
A recent study showed that as many as 40% of primary care physician offices will NOT see a new patient if they are using opiate pain medications.
Doctors’ fear of increased scrutiny for prescribing medications for patients with legitimate medical need has had a chilling effect on care.
Overly restrictive policies limiting controlled substances for pain to try to reduce overdose deaths has created another crisis:
Coloradans living with chronic pain are unable to access the treatment they and their doctors feel they need, resulting in increased disability, decreased function, suicides, and an increase in overdoses as pain patients try to treat their own pain.
Tapering a patient down or off opioid medication can actually increase their risk of overdose and suicide.
CDC Data suggest that illicit fentanyl and other illegally obtained controlled substances, tainted substances, or the use of multiple substances in combination drive overdose deaths.
- Protects access to healthcare by prohibiting a healthcare provider or health system from refusing to treat a patient solely because of the patient’s use of prescribed opioids or opioids at a particular dose.
- Clarifies that a prescribing healthcare provider treating a patient for chronic pain is not subject to disciplinary action solely for prescribing a controlled substance at a dose above a set or predetermined dose threshold.
- Prohibits a healthcare provider from forcing a patient to taper their medication below the dose they need, solely because of predetermined dose threshold
recommendations, not for independent, clinical reasons.
- Prohibits a pharmacy, health insurance carrier, or pharmacy benefit manager from refusing to fill or approve the coverage for a drug solely on the basis of the dosage requirement of a patient.
- Improves access to controlled substances for patients with genuine medical need, including those in palliative, hospice, or end-of-life care. Policies around controlled substances for pain have left many patients struggling to access pain control and medications.
- Respects that treatment decisions should be individualized and made between the doctor and the patient. Ensures that clinical discretion–whether by a pharmacist or physician –will take precedence over one-size-fits-all policies.
- Helps protect Coloradans who need opioids for chronic pain management by improving access to care and enables them to get medications from a pharmacy of their choice.
This Bill Will NOT:
- Force doctors to prescribe opiates, other controlled substances, or any other treatments.
- Prevent people who are illegally diverting medications from being prosecuted.
- Prohibit providers from referring patients who generally require care outside of their area of expertise.
Felony Assault Bill Fact Sheet
Colorado healthcare workers have worked hard throughout the pandemic to care for the sick and keep our communities healthy, often risking their own well-being in the process. Without question, these workers are deserving of dignity, respect, and safety on the job.
Policies that increase criminal penalties when a healthcare worker is assaulted may be well-intentioned, but fail to prevent violence against healthcare workers and have the unintended consequence of causing further harm to vulnerable populations in need of treatment
and care in the process. That includes people with behavioral health issues, people with disabilities, and people with conditions like epilepsy, neurological disorders, traumatic brain injuries, dementia, and other conditions that impact the brain.
Increasing criminal penalties for assault has no evidence basis for preventing assault. Instead, it disproportionately impacts people with serious physical and behavioral health conditions, creating a harmful cycle of felonization for vulnerable populations that need care, not cuffs. Not only that, but these policies put healthcare providers who have a duty to first and foremost do no harm in an ethically compromised position.
Healthcare workers deserve solutions that work
- This policy puts healthcare providers who have a
duty to first and foremost do no harm in an ethically
- We need to invest resources in early prevention for
behavioral health needs and more accessible
physical and behavioral health care options rather
than criminalizing those with cognitive decline, brain
injuries, or behavioral health issues.
- Appropriate staffing ratios, staffing training for
providers, and higher pay will do more to support
our healthcare workers than this felonization policy.
Increasing criminal penalties when a healthcare worker is harmed will not prevent violence
- A 2017 review of multiple studies found little evidence that
enhanced sentencing had a substantial or significant effect
on deterring crimes
- A review of judicial data shows that since 2015, there has
been an overall increase in felony assault charges brought
that involve an alleged assault on a first responder. These
laws are not associated with a “deterrence” impact.
- In 2015, there were 541 felony charges filed for assaults on
first responders and in 2021, a record 783 felony charges
This policy will cause further harm to vulnerable populations
- Similar existing crimes are disproportionately charged against people who have specific health conditions and are
subsequently found incompetent to proceed (ITP). While the total number of charges has increased 2 fold since
2013 to 2018, those charged with these crimes who were found ITP has increased 25 times
- People with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) are oftentimes misdiagnosed, if diagnosed at all, with a
disability and do not receive the support and accommodations necessary for equal and equitable access throughout
the justice system process. Historically, this lack of support has led to the over-incarceration of people with IDD
- In 2013, a little over 1% of people who had enhanced felony assault charges filed against them were ITP. By 2018,
those proportions had increased by 20-fold, with individuals who were ITP representing 14-22% of all the enhanced
felony assault charges showing the disproportional impact these laws are having on people with specific health
- Individuals with a felony on their record face difficulties finding work and housing and are more likely to have
applications denied by employers and landlords. Policies that increase criminal penalties would endanger an already
vulnerable population and make it more difficult for them to care for themselves and their families
- When people in need of treatment become fearful that they will be arrested and charged for demonstrating
symptoms of their health condition in a hospital, they will be less likely to seek care
- Some physical and behavioral health conditions are difficult to diagnose and treat. These Coloradans should not be
at risk of a felony while they try to identify while they are having cognitive issues
The following organizations oppose increasing criminal penalties for assault: