An In-Depth Look at the Opioid Response Plan


On The Legislature Today, host Andrea Lannom is joined by Dr. Rahul Gupta, West Virginia’s Commissioner for the Bureau of Public Health. Gupta chats with Lannom about DHHR’s Opioid Response Plan – an initiative to explore the most effective ways the state can combat the opioid crisis.

The plan was first released for public comment by the Department of Health and Human Resources in November 2017. In early January 2018, the plan was released for further comment.

Gupta outlined a number of focuses and findings from the plan:

  • Prevention:
    • Stopping inappropriate prescribing of pain medications
    • Limiting the duration of initial opioid prescriptions
  • Early Prevention:
    • Public education to campaigns to address misinformation and stigma
    • Expand law enforcement diversion programs
    • Strengthen life-saving harm reduction policies
  • Overdose Reversal:
    • Requires all first responders to carry reversal medications, support community-based naloxone programs, and authorize a standing order for naloxone prescriptions to improve insurance coverage
    • Hospitals and EMS should be required to report non-fatal overdoses
  • Supporting Families – Mother and Baby Programs
    • Expansion of programs that serve families
    • Expand access to long-acting reversible contraception and other contraception services for those with substance use disorders
  • Recovery
    • Broad expansion of peer-based supports

Also in this episode, medical marijuana could once again hit lawmakers’ desks this year.

During the 2017 state Legislative session, West Virginia passed the Medical Cannabis Act, permitting patients with a written doctor’s certification to use medical cannabis and buy it from registered dispensaries. The bill was a big shock – with few thinking passage was possible. But as Appalachia Health News reporter Kara Lofton reports, supporters of the bill this session say it didn’t go far enough, while opponents say it went too far.

Sen. Richard Ojeda, D-Logan, who was the lead sponsor of last year’s medical marijuana bill, says he will introduce legislation in the next few days that would broaden West Virginia’s medical marijuana law.

The legislature approved a resolution to authorize a monument on the Capitol grounds, dedicated to the sacrifice of Gold Star Families – families of fallen soldiers. The project was led by Medal of Honor recipient and World War II hero Hershel Williams, better known by his nickname “Woody.” The 94-year-old West Virginian served in the Marines and was decorated for heroism at Iwo Jima.

We also hear from West Virginia leaders from the American Federation of Teachers, the West Virginia Education Association, the UMWA, the AFL-CIO, and others representing thousands of public employees, who all gathered at the Culture Center – speaking out about low pay, rising insurance costs, and demanding lawmakers address what they called “a crisis situation.”

Senior Reporter Dave Mistich brings us a story from the Senate, which passed a bill that creates a Sexual Assault Victims’ Bill of Rights. Mistich details the bill and another piece of legislation under consideration that aims to help sexual assault victims.

The Legislature Today is West Virginia’s source for daily legislative news and information. The only live television program covering the West Virginia Legislature, the broadcast features reports from the Senate, House and committee meetings with in-depth interviews and analysis of the legislative process in West Virginia.

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  • 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. – The West Virginia Channel

The Legislature Today can also be heard at 6 p.m. weeknights on WVPB’s statewide radio network.
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*Editor’s Note: The headline and top of the web story were adjusted on January 25 to clarify and reflect the focus of this episode on the Opioid Response Plan.