N.J. Nurses Celebrate Victory for Opioid Addiction Treatment on Capitol Hill
Legislation Expands Ability to Treat Addiction to Additional Nurses
WASHINGTON, D.C.—June 22, 2018—The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) is celebrating the victory of expanding opioid addiction treatment resources with the approval of landmark legislation that gives permanent medication-assisted treatment (MAT) prescribing authority to nurse practitioners and physicians assistants and extends the ability to prescribe to certified registered nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists and registered nurse midwives.
Opioid addiction was the key topic of discussion as a critical public health issue with the death toll on a rapid rise nationally and in the Garden State as NJSNA and fellow American Nurses Association (ANA) members advocated on Capitol Hill yesterday for several critical public-interest health care concerns.
“We would like to thank everyone who voted yes on this bill, which expands nursing’s ability to help stop the opioid crisis by giving additional advanced practice nurses, especially nurse midwives, the authority to prescribe medications that can help patients who are struggling with addiction issues,” said Judith Schmidt, MSN, DHA (c) RN, CCRN and CEO of the New Jersey State Nurses Association. “They heard our voices and understand nurses are an indispensable provider in the health care system and must be included in any effort to curb this national crisis. Registered nurse midwives are providing essential care in underserved areas and, more often than not, the only medical professional a pregnant woman who may have an opioid addiction is seeing.”
The bill, H.R. 6, a combination of several opioid bills, builds on the successes of previous legislation, passed with overwhelming support, gathering 396 out of 427 possible votes.
Every year, an NJSNA-led coalition travels to Washington D.C. to fight for the profession of nursing and patient care in the Garden State. Yesterday, they met with eight members of Congress and their staff; all members New Jersey nurses met with approved the legislation that passed the House today. It will move onto the Senate.
Opioid Crisis Continues in New Jersey
Maximizing the nation’s health care workforce is critical to turning the tide on the opioid addiction and overdose epidemic, which is impacting thousands in New Jersey. Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are well-positioned to make a significant impact on many fronts, including expansion of access to a much-needed MAT. This prescribing authority is within all the APRNs respective scopes of practice.
Opioids have caused the death of 1,394 New Jersey residents from January 1 through June 17 this year, according to NJ Cares, a real-time dashboard of opioid information compiled by the New Jersey Attorney General. There were 3,987 Naloxone, a drug to counteract an opioid overdose, administrations through April 15 and 2,079,549 opioid prescriptions written from January 1 through June 20, 2018.
At this pace, the death rate will far surpass last year, where 2,284 people died between July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017, a 34.7 percent increase over the previous fiscal year, according to the CDC.
NJSNA, which was established in 1901, is a constituent member of the American Nurses Association. The New Jersey State Nurses Association (NJSNA) represents the interests of 125,000 registered nurses and advanced practice nurses as an advocate for the nursing profession. NJSNA’s lobbying arm continues to protect the nursing profession through legislative victories. Its nonprofit foundation, Institute for Nursing, helps nurses further their careers by providing continuing education, scholarships and research grants in addition to invaluable networking opportunities. For more information, nurses can visit www.njsna.org or contact NJSNA at firstname.lastname@example.org or (609) 883-5335.