Gov. Ducey’s opioid plan part of a bipartisan effort to curb epidemic


TED SIMONS: EACH WEDNESDAY DURING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION WE GET AN UPDATE ON THE LATEST FROM THE STATE CAPITOL, ROTATING BETWEEN REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC LEADERS. TONIGHT, IT'S THE DEMOCRATS' TURN. WE WELCOME SENATE ASSISTANT MINORITY LEADER STEVE FARLEY AND HOUSE MINORITY LEADER REBECCA RIOS. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. SPECIAL SESSION ON THE OPIOID CRISIS. IT'S UNDER WAY. HOW DOES A SPECIAL SESSION WORK?

STEVE FARLEY: WELL IT'S A LITTLE MORE COMPLEX, BUT NOT TOO MUCH. WE’RE JUST DOING THIS SIMULTANEOUSLY AND EVERY DAY WE’RE GOING TO THE FLOOR, WE GAVEL IN REGULAR SESSION, WE DO THE BUSINESS, GAVEL OUT, THEN WE GAVEL IN SPECIAL SESSION, GAVEL OUT OF THAT ONE, COMMITTEE’S WORK. BUT I GUESS THIS SPECIAL SESSION IS SPECIAL BECAUSE DEMOCRATS ACTUALLY HAD A MAJOR SAY ON IMPROVING THE PACKAGE THAT WENT ON THE TABLE. I'M VERY PROUD THAT WHILE THE OPENING PACKAGE DIDN'T INCLUDE ANY TREATMENT MONEY, WE AS DEMOCRATS EMPHASIZE YOU CAN'T JUST ATTACK THE OPIOID EPIDEMIC FROM A SUPPLY SIDE STANDPOINT. YOU HAVE TO ATTACK THE DEMAND. AND THAT MEANS YOU REALLY HAVE TO TREAT PEOPLE TO MAKE THIS WORK.

TED SIMONS: I THOUGHT THE INITIAL IDEA FROM THE GOVERNOR WAS $10 MILLION TO TREAT THE UNINSURED. WAS THAT NOT IN THE ORIGINAL PLAN?

REBECCA RIOS: NO, THAT WAS ACTUALLY AN IDEA WE PROPOSED IN OUR NEGOTIATIONS. WE WERE QUITE PLEASED THAT THEY WERE WILLING TO ACKNOWLEDGE THAT THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FOLKS ARE EITHER NOT ON ACCESS OR UNDER INSURED AND SO THEY AGREED TO THE $10 MILLION REQUEST.

TED SIMONS: SOME OF THE OTHER IDEAS, NO PRESCRIPTIONS OVER FIVE DAYS FOR NEW OPIOID PATIENTS. MAKE SENSE? AGREED TO THERE?

REBECCA RIOS: CURRENTLY THE RESEARCH HAS SHOWN IS DURING THOSE INITIAL SEVEN DAYS THAT FOLKS INTEND TO BECOME ADDICTED OR CAN BE ADDICTED. OFTEN TIMES YOU ARE PRESCRIBED 30 DAYS WORTH OF MEDICATION WHEN FIVE DAYS MAY BE SUFFICIENT. THEY WANTED TO STEM THE TIDE AND PREVENT NEW PEOPLE FROM BECOMING ADDICTED. FOR FIRST TIME PEOPLE ARE PRESCRIBED OPIODS, IT WOULD BE FOR FIVE DAYS. IT DOESN'T PRECLUDE THEM FROM GOING BACK AND RECEIVING ANOTHER PRESCRIPTION, BUT AGAIN IT'S AN ATTEMPT TO GIVE ONLY WHAT IS NECESSARY AND NOT WHAT WE HAVE SEEN IN PRACTICE WHEN PEOPLE ARE GIVING A MONTH’S WORTH OF PRESCRIPTIONS WHEN THEY MAY NOT NEED IT.

TED SIMONS: AND LIMITING DOSES WOULD FOLLOW THE SAME GUIDELINES. IT’S ALSO SOMETHING DOCTORS USED TO KIND OF DO WITHOUT LAWMAKERS LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDERS. ANY PUSHBACK AT ALL ON SOME OF THESE IDEAS FROM DOCTORS?

STEVE FARLEY: WE TALKED WITH THE ARIZONA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION INITIALLY. THEY EXPRESS SOME DOUBTS OVER CERTAIN INITIAL ELEMENTS TO US AS DEMOCRATS. WE WERE ABLE TO PRESENT THOSE ISSUES TO THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE. WE WERE ABLE TO COME TOGETHER WITH SOME CHANGES FROM THE MEDICAL ASSOCIATION FROM THE DOCTORS THAT THEY SEEM TO BE PRETTY HAPPY WITH AT THIS POINT. WE WERE ABLE TO COME UP WITH A CONSENSUS SOLUTION THAT WILL REALLY ATTACK THIS SERIOUS ISSUE.

TED SIMONS: A GOOD SAMARITAN LAW FOR OVERDOSE IS PROSECUTING DRUG MAKERS SETTING UP A PROVISION TO PREVENT DOCTOR SHOPPING. THESE ALL SOUND LIKE IDEAS, AGAIN, THIS SPECIAL SESSION, THERE SHOULDN’T BE TOO MUCH FUSSING AND FIGHTING HERE.

STEVE FARLEY: I THINK WE'LL LOOK AT THIS AS PRETTY MUCH A UNANIMOUS VOTE. I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE TREATMENT IN THE PLAN. AS I SAID, YOU CAN'T JUST CUT OFF THE PILLS AND EXPECT EVERYTHING TO BE OKAY. THERE WILL BE A CERTAIN NUMBER OF PEOPLE ADDICTED TO TURN TO HEROIN AND OTHER DIFFICULT STUFF UNLESS YOU PUT MORE INVESTMENT INTO TREATMENT TO MAKE SURE WE’RE ACTUALLY LOOKING AT BEHAVIORAL HEALTH IN A HOLISTIC WAY.

TED SIMONS: SAME THING OVER IN THE HOUSE?

REBECCA RIOS: ABSOLUTELY. I THINK WHAT’S IMPORTANT FROM A DEMOCRATIC PERSPECTIVE IS THERE ARE A NUMBER OF PROVISIONS IN THIS BILL THAT WERE ACTUALLY DEMOCRATIC BILLS THAT WERE INTRODUCED YEAR AFTER YEAR. WE ARE PLEASED THAT THE GOVERNOR HAS FINALLY SEEN THAT THE IDEAS WE HAVE BEEN COMING FORWARD WITH FOR A FEW YEARS ARE FANTASTIC IDEAS. ONE OF THEM BEING THE GOOD SAMARITAN 911 PROVISION THAT IF YOU ARE WITH SOMEONE THAT HAS OVERDOSED, YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEAR AND RUN AND BE AFRAID TO CALL 911. YOU CAN CALL 911 AND BE ELIGIBLE FOR A DIVERSION PROGRAM, AGAIN, SO FOLKS ARE NOT RELUCTANT TO CALL AND GET HELP FOR FOLKS. ANOTHER DEMOCRATIC IDEA WAS THE ANGEL INITIATIVE WHICH ESSENTIALLY SETS UP A LOCATION WHERE SOMEONE CAN GO IN AND SAY, I'M DONE. HERE'S MY DRUGS. WHERE DO I GET TREATMENT -- AGAIN, WITHOUT FEAR FOR GETTING IN TROUBLE FOR HAVING PARAPHERNALIA OR DRUGS. WE’RE QUITE PLEASED A NUMBER OF DEMOCRAT IDEAS WERE ACCEPTED. PART OF WHAT WE HAVE SAID TO THE GOVERNOR'S STAFF AND THE GOVERNOR IS, DIDN'T THIS WORK WELL? ISN'T THIS SOMETHING WE SHOULD DO WITH THE BUDGET AND EDUCATION? THIS NOT A REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRATIC PROBLEM. PEOPLE WANT US TO SOLVE THESE THINGS TOGETHER. WE HAVE SHOWN WE CAN DO IT WHERE THERE'S A WILL.

TED SIMONS: SMOOTH SAILING THERE. I GUESSING A LITTLE ROUGHER WATERS HERE. THE IDEA OF NON-ENGLISH INSURANCE CONTRACTS, BASICALLY VOIDING THEM OF BEING THE FINAL ARBITER FOR THE DEAL. TALK TO US ABOUT THIS IDEA AND WHY I'M GUESSING DEMOCRATS ARE AGAINST IT?

STEVE FARLEY: THE ONES I HAVE TALKED TO CERTAINLY ARE. IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE THAT SOMEBODY IS GOING TO MARKET INSURANCE TO A MARKET OF PEOPLE WHO MAY NOT HAVE ENGLISH AS THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE. THEN TO SAY A CONTRACT THEY DON'T FULLY UNDERSTAND BEING THEIR GOVERNING DOCUMENT EVEN THOUGH THE TRANSLATION TO SPANISH MIGHT ACTUALLY SAY SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT. THAT COULD SET UP A SITUATION OF FRAUD, IT COULD SET UP A SITUATION IN WHICH PEOPLE WHO ARE BAD ACTORS COULD REALLY TAKE ADVANTAGE OF FOLKS AND DO IT LEGALLY. I THINK THAT'S A TERRIBLE IDEA TO PUT THAT IN THE STATUTE.

TED SIMONS: ARE THERE NOT TRANSLATORS THERE TO BE A BUFFER BETWEEN THE CONTRACT WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO SAY X AND IN SOME SPOTS SAY Y?

REBECCA RIOS: THAT’S A VERY GOOD POINT. TRANSLATION SERVICES ARE AVAILABLE THROUGH THE ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE. IT'S ONE INSURANCE COMPANY NATIONWIDE THIS IS BRINGING FORTH THIS LEGISLATION. OTHER INSURANCE COMPANIES HAVE BEEN ABLE TO PROVIDE THE CONTRACT IN SPANISH AND HAVE NOT HAD TO HAVE THE LAW CHANGED. IT'S CONCERNING THAT NOW ALL OF THE SUDDEN THAT ONE INSURANCE COMPANY SAYS WE'LL GO AHEAD AND PROVIDE IT IN TWO LANGUAGES, BUT WE DON'T WANT TO BE HELD LEGALLY BINDED TO WHAT IS IN THE LANGUAGE THESE FOLKS CAN UNDERSTAND.

TED SIMONS: THAT’S AN INTERESTING POINT. WHAT THE INSURANCE MAKERS ARE TELLING SOME LAWMAKERS, BECAUSE OF THIS, WE CAN NOW OFFER MORE INSURANCE POLICIES IN NON-ENGLISH LANGUAGES KNOWING THAT THE TRANSLATION MIGHT BE THERE, THESE PEOPLE ARE NOW POSSIBLE CONSUMER, AND WE CAN'T JUST SHUT THEM OUT EVEN THOUGH THE LAST LINE OF DEFENSE WOULD BE THE ENGLISH VERSION OF THE CONTRACT.

STEVE FARLEY: THEN THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SIGNING UP FOR THESE INSURANCE POLICIES DON'T ACTUALLY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE SIGNING UP FOR. WHAT THIS LAW WOULD SAY IS THAT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE GOVERNS. IF THEY ARE SOLD SOMETHING THAT LOOKS COMPLETELY DIFFERENT IN A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE, THEN THAT WOULD NEVER GOVERN EVEN THOUGH THAT IN GOOD FAITH THEY SIGNED UP FOR SOMETHING THAT’S SIGNED IN THEIR LANGUAGE.

TED SIMONS: EVEN A SWORN STATEMENT BY A TRANSLATOR?

STEVE FARLEY: I DON'T THINK THAT WOULD GOVERN IN THIS CASE.

TED SIMONS: WHAT DO YOU THINK?

REBECCA RIOS: I DON'T KNOW.

TED SIMONS: SO LAST QUESTION BEFORE WE GO HERE, YOU THINK YOU DESERVE A RAISE? THERE’S A LAWMAKER THAT THINKS YOU DO DESERVE A BIG RAISE LIKE THREE TIMES WHAT YOU ARE MAKING NOW, 24 TO $75,000.

REBECCA RIOS: UNFORTUANTELY, WHEN LAWMAKERS INTRODUCE BILLS LIKE THAT THEY THE ELECTORATE SAYS WHO ARE THESE BUFFOONS AND THEY DON’T DESERVE A RAISE. IT'S VERY UNFORTUNATE BECAUSE I HAVE ALWAYS SAID YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. I THINK THAT IF YOU RAISE THE LEVEL OF INCOME, YOU WILL HAVE A WIDER POOL OF FOLKS THAT CAN AFFORD TO SERVE. WE NEED TO BROADEN THE POOL OF PEOPLE THAT ARE SERVING.

STEVE FARLEY: YOU KNOW WHO DESERVES A RAISE? PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS IN ARIZONA BECAUSE RIGHT NOW THEY ARE LEAVING IN DROVES BECAUSE THEY CAN'T AFFORD TO TEACH. GOVERNOR DUCEY GAVE 20 PERCENT RAISES AND MORE TO HIS INNER CIRCLE. IT WAS JUST REPORTED THAT HE’S HIRED AN UNPRECEDENTED NUMBER OF P.R. STAFF ACROSS STATE GOVERNMENT AND YET HE COULD ONLY OFFER A .4 RAISE TO TEACHERS WHEN HE OFFERED THAT. WE SHOULDN’T CERTAINLY RAISES TO LAWMAKERS, BUT TEACHERS NEED IT. MORE THAN HALF OF OUR TEACHING POSITIONS ARE NOW EITHER VACANT OR HELD BY PEOPLE WITHOUT PROPER QUALIFICATIONS.

TED SIMONS: LET'S TALK ABOUT YOU. I MEAN 24,000. NO PAY RAISE IN WHAT 20-SOMETHING YEARS. WHY ARE YOU HERE?

STEVE FARLEY: PUBLIC SERVICE ISN'T FOR THE MONEY. I'M DOWN HERE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE. I WOULD LIKE TO GET OUR GOVERNMENT BACK TO THE POINT AT EVERY LEVEL INCLUDING THE EXECUTIVE BRANCH, WHERE PEOPLE ARE SERVING FOR THE HONOR OF DOING YOUR BEST TO MAKE THE STATE A BETTER PLACE, NOT TO PERSONALLY ENRICH YOURSELF.

TED SIMONS: SAME IDEA FOR A DAILY ALLOWANCE THAT WANT TO TRIPLE THAT AS WELL. OUTSIDE LAWMAKERS CAN'T AFFORD A ROOM AT $60 A DAY.

REBECCA RIOS: IT'S VERY DIFFIUCLT FROM THE TUCSON AND OUTLINING AREAS TO COME BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO SET UP ANOTHER HOME. IT IS EXPENSIVE. I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN OF THE MINDSET THAT WITH SUCH A LOW SALARY, WHAT YOU INSURE IS PEOPLE ARE THERE THAT ARE RETIRED, INDEPENDENTLY WEALTHY, HAVE A SPOUSE TO TAKE CARE OF THEM. SO YOU ARE NOT GETTING A TRUE REPRESENTATIVE LEGISLATURE OF WORKING FAMILIES. I THINK UNTIL YOU CAN AFFORD TO BRING THAT UP, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR, AND THAT TENDS TO BE SKEWED. PEOPLE SKEW THEIR OPINIONS AND THE LAWS THEY PASS. I THINK IT’S IMPORTANT, BUT IT HAS TO BE THE VOTERS THAT DECIDE A PAY RAISE. IT HAS TO BE SOMETHING WITHIN REASON. TRIPLING THE SALARY IS INSANE.

TED SIMONS: ALRIGHT. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. THANKS FOR BEING HERE. APPRECIATE IT.

TED SIMONS: UP NEXT ON "ARIZONA HORIZON," A LOCAL FREELANCE JOURNALIST IS HONORED FOR HER REPORTING ON THE UNDER REPRESENTED. STAY WITH US.

Governor Doug Ducey says one of his primary items on his agenda for this year is to crack down on the opioid epidemic, and Democrats are eager to help pave the road to recovery.

State Sen. Steve Farley says the Democrats were consulted on the opioid plan that went that was presented to the legislature. The party’s focus isn’t on attacking the problem from just the supply standing point but from the demand side. Farley says he wants to see more treatment opportunities in the package.

Democrats in the legislature offer several propositions and initiatives for helping this addiction problem. State Rep. Rebecca Rios points out that the Democrats are trying to put $10 million toward treating the uninsured, limit first-time prescriptions so they don’t exceed five days worth of the drug and create diversion a program that offers a safe place to independently seek help without fear or shame.

Farley and Rios also discuss non-English insurance contacts. There is an insurance company that offers their contracts in two languages – English and Spanish – but they say they are not accountable for what is promised in the Spanish document. Farley says this sets up a chance for fraud and taking advantage of people who aren’t English speakers.

The two lawmakers also spoke about the salary of the state legislature, which hasn’t been raised in over 20 years. Rios says that you get what you pay for. If lawmakers aren’t paid a decent salary then it dissuades a lot of people from running for office. However, Farley made clear that he wants to see teacher salaries be raised before he sees an increase in his own pay check.

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In this segment:

Sen. Steve Farley: (D) Senate Assistant Minority Leader
Rep. Rebecca Rios: (D) House Minority Leader

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