Illinois lawmakers seek to curb heroin, opioid crisis

Illinois lawmakers have passed legislation seeking to curb the state's heroin and opioid crisis.

Legislation designed to battle addiction and stem deaths from overdoses was passed in the state House unanimously and had four votes in opposition when it was passed by the Senate. The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises newspapers reports part of the bill was vetoed by Gov. Bruce Rauner, but legislators from both parties voted to override his alterations.

The bill was championed by state Rep. Lou Lang, D-Skokie.

"I had read one too many reports about heroin taking over Illinois," Lang said.

In preparing the legislation, Lang worked with Rep. John Anthony, R-Joliet.

"We've moved from crisis to epidemic," said Anthony, who is a former Kendall County sheriff's deputy.

The law's provisions include allowing trained pharmacists to provide the anti-overdose drug naloxone without a prescription; and requiring fire departments, law enforcement agencies and emergency medical service providers to possess anti-overdose drugs.

The law also requires that private insurers provide coverage for anti-overdose medications, and that hospitals, coroners and medical examiners gather and report data on opioid and heroin overdose deaths and treatments.

Also include in the law is the expansion of drug courts that give an option aside from prison for low-level drug offenders, as well as of Illinois' Medicaid program to cover every type of medication-assisted treatment that has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for opioid and alcohol dependence.

Many of the bill's provisions are still being put into effect, with the legislation affecting several state agencies.


Information from: The Pantagraph,