In the last session of the General Assembly, a bill was passed and signed by Governor Carney that made Delaware one of the first states to fight the Opioid Epidemic by imposing a tax on those opioids to raise funds to provide treatment to those addicted. Senate Bill 34 added a fee of 1 cent per morphine milligram equivalent for name-brand opioids and one-quarter of a cent for generics. Thus, a 10mg pill of oxycodone would cost an extra 15 (brand-name) or 4 cents (generic).
State officials estimate that small levy would generate more than $8 million over the next three years, largely because Delaware is currently one of the top 20 states when it comes to opioid prescriptions per capita and the top state in the nation for high-dose prescriptions. Money collected from that fee could subsidize enrollment in residential treatment programs for the uninsured and underinsured, expand treatment options statewide and conduct research on effective opioid treatments. The dedicated fund for these programs would be administered by the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services with input from the Behavioral Health Consortium, Addiction Action Committee and the Overdose System of Care.
Last week, DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik announced plans on how her department would spend the first $700,000 raised by the fee as of the third quarter of 2020. Funds from the Opioid Impact Fee will be targeted for four main purposes in the coming year:
- $300,000 will be combined with federal grant funding to help fill a critical gap in the existing system of care for people struggling with addiction issues. Interventions immediately following an overdose or other hospitalization present an effective opportunity to enroll patients in treatment programs. Currently, people discharged from the hospital are brought to a Bridge Clinic, located in each county, for screening and referrals to these programs. However, Bridge Clinics do not operate 24/7. DSAMH is currently working to address this issue through the addition of Stabilization Centers that can house and counsel clients during off-hours and weekends. Funding from the Opioid Impact Fee will help cover capital start-up costs, while the State Opioid Response federal grant will be used to fund programmatic and treatment expenses.
- $250,000 will be used to help people struggling with addiction issues fill gaps in the social determinants that often present roadblocks in their efforts to enter, continue and complete the treatment and recovery process. These funds will provide DSAMH with the ability to assist clients with transportation costs and transitional housing while they seek treatment, as well as additional supports for people in recovery.
- $100,000 will be reserved to cover the Department of State’s administrative expenses associated with the collection of the fee.
- $50,000 will be used to purchase 925 additional naloxone kits that DSAMH will make available to various community groups. Organizations can acquire these life-saving kits by contacting DSAMH. During the first three quarters of 2020, the Delaware Division of Public Health’s Office of Health Crisis Response distributed nearly 6,300 naloxone kits statewide through its community partners.
“As we work to reduce the spread of COVID-19, our state continues to respond to an opioid epidemic that is costing the lives of far too many Delawareans,” DHSS Secretary Molly Magarik said. “The opioid impact fee created by Sen. Stephanie Hansen last year is proving to be a powerful tool in that fight. These funds are helping us to expand our services and reach the people most in need of that support.”
“When we started down this road, we heard from countless naysayers who falsely claimed either that this legislation would hurt pharmacies, negatively impact consumers or fail to make a difference,” said Sen. Stephanie Hansen. “Fears such as these prevent progress and have allowed this crisis to go on so long. This announcement today proves we can hold drug makers accountable. We can bring innovative, new tools to bear to confront addiction in our communities. And we can do more to break the cycle of abuse, addiction and death that has touched so many families in our state.”
“The status quo simply will not suffice if we are going to get Delaware’s opioid crisis under control,” said Alexis Teitelbaum, acting director for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health. “Revenue from the opioid impact fee will support our efforts to build out Delaware’s treatment infrastructure and continue our efforts to reach more people in new ways.”
“There are no easy solutions when it comes to treating people struggling with substance use disorder,” said Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the Delaware Behavioral Health Consortium.
“To be successful, we must take a truly holistic approach. This means supporting both the individual and their family as we attempt to remove the social determinant barriers that hinder an individual on a path to recovery,” she said. “The Opioid Impact Fee is helping Delaware to build that behavioral health system infrastructure. This legislation is doing more than just generating revenue. It will help us to save lives, rebuild families, and restore communities torn apart by addiction. Sen. Hansen, Rep. Bentz, the community advocates, and DHSS deserve a lot of credit for the plan being put forward today.”
|SB 34 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Hansen, Ennis, Lockman, McBride, MCDowell, Paradee, Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh, Delcollo||(17-4) Brown, Cloutier, Delcollo, Ennis, Hansen, Hocker, Lockman, Lopez, McBride, McDowell, Paradee, Pettyjohn, Poore, Sokola, Sturgeon, Townsend, Walsh||Bonini, Lawson, Richardson, Wilson|
|Baumbach, Brady, Dorsey-Walker, Heffernan, Osienski, Seigfried, K.Williams, Hensley, M.Smith||(33-8) Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha, Cooke, D.Short, Dorsey Walker, Dukes, Gray, Griffith, Heffernan, Hensley, Jaques, K.Johnson, K.Williams, Kowalko, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Minor-Brown, Mitchell, Osienski, Q. Johnson, Schwartzkopf, Seigfried, Shupe, Smyk, Vanderwende, Viola||Briggs King, Collins, Michael Smith, Morris, Postles, Ramone, Spiegelman, Yearick|
|Current Status||Passed the House 33-8 and the Senate 17-4 and signed into law by the Governor.|