Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks during a news conference in which he outlined legislation aimed at further addressing opioid abuse in the state on Monday, March 6, 2017, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks during a news conference in which he outlined legislation aimed at further addressing opioid abuse in the state on Monday, March 6, 2017, in Juneau, Alaska. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Walker proposes more steps to fight opioid abuse

JUNEAU — Gov. Bill Walker on Monday proposed additional steps aimed at addressing opioid abuse in Alaska, including pain management training for medical providers and limits on initial prescriptions.

The proposal is the latest from Walker, who, in a move applauded by state legislators, last month issued a public health disaster declaration stemming from the abuse of opioids, such as heroin and prescription painkillers.

Walker’s bill, introduced Monday, would allow adult patients to decline opioids as part of a health care directive and limit to seven days initial prescriptions for outpatient use, with some exceptions.

Providers prescribing an opioid to someone younger than 18 would have to discuss with the parent or guardian the need for the prescription and risks associated with opioid use.

The bill also includes provisions for continuing education for medical providers in pain management and opioid addiction and calls for daily updates to a controlled substance prescription database. Failure by a pharmacist or practitioner to register with, review and submit information to the database as required would be grounds for disciplinary action.

The bill extends to veterinarians the requirement to register with the database and calls on a state veterinary board to develop resources to help vets identify pet owners who may be at risk of abusing opioids prescribed for an animal.

During a news conference Monday, Walker said the bill is not a cure-all but is significant.

State health commissioner Valerie Davidson said access to treatment also is critical and cited ways Alaskans have benefited under former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, which Congress is looking to change.

Davidson said that under expanded Medicaid in Alaska, more than $22 million has been spent on behavioral health services, including treatment. The health care law also required insurance companies to cover behavioral health services, she said.

Walker last month directed state agencies to pursue grant funding to help combat opioid abuse.

The order included a directive that the state corrections department develop a program to provide treatment for inmates at the point of release from custody who want help fighting opioid addictions.

Corrections Commissioner Dean Williams said the department plans to begin offering shots of Vivitrol, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved for preventing relapse to opioid dependence after patients have undergone detox treatments.

The intent is to then pair individuals with resources, such as a 12-step program, and other assistance, Williams said.

The effort began in halfway houses, and the department has been backing into the system further, he said.

Alaska state health commissioner Valerie Davidson speaks during a news conference on Monday, March 6, 2017, in Juneau, Alaska, during which Alaska Gov. Bill Walker outlined legislation aimed at further addressing opioid abuse in Alaska. Also shown, from left, are Walker chief of staff Scott Kendall, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Walker. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

Alaska state health commissioner Valerie Davidson speaks during a news conference on Monday, March 6, 2017, in Juneau, Alaska, during which Alaska Gov. Bill Walker outlined legislation aimed at further addressing opioid abuse in Alaska. Also shown, from left, are Walker chief of staff Scott Kendall, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Walker. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

More in News

Bradley Walters leads the pack up Angle Hill on Wednesday, July 18, 2018, at the Salmon Run Series at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Summer races kick off at Tsalteshi

The annual Salmon Run Series 5K races start on July 6 and continue every Wednesday through Aug. 3

Central Emergency Services staff wait to receive doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly mulls bond for new CES fire station

Replacement of the current station is estimated to cost $16.5 million

Buldozers sit outside of the former Kenai Bowling Alley on Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Old Kenai bowling alley comes down

The business closed in 2015

Landslide debris surrounds part of Lowell Point Road on Friday, June 3, 2022, in Seward, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly looks to mitigate future Lowell Point Road dangers

Assembly members approved legislation supporting agencies working to address the “repetitive hazards”

The Alaska Department of Health And Social Services building in Juneau has no visible signs indicating the department is splitting into two agencies as of Friday. Top officials at the department said many of the changes, both physical and in services, are likely weeks and in some cases months away. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Little sign of big change for DHSS

No commissioner at new department, other Department of Health and Social Services changes may take months

Nate Rochon cleans fish after dipnetting in the Kasilof River, on June 25, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
King closures continue; Kasilof dipnet opens Saturday

The early-run Kenai River king sport fishery remains closed, and fishing for kings of any size is prohibited

An "Al Gross for Congress" sign sits near the driveway to Gross’ home in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, after he announced plans to withdraw from the U.S. House race. Gross has given little explanation in two statements for why he is ending his campaign, and a woman who answered the door at the Gross home asked a reporter to leave the property. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Alaska judge rules Sweeney won’t advance to special election

JUNEAU — A state court judge ruled Friday that Alaska elections officials… Continue reading

Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion 
Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen listens to a presentation from Alaska Communications during a meeting of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday, March 9, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska.
ACS pilots fiber program in certain peninsula neighborhoods

The fiber to the home service will make available the fastest internet home speeds on the peninsula

Most Read