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Drug Treatment Bill Moves Closer to Approval

The Maine Legislature moved closer Thursday to approving $6.6 million bill to fight a deadly opioid crisis that claimed the lives over 400 Mainers last year. Both the House and Senate have given initial approval to the bill that would direct treatment funding to those without insurance.

The spending bill is designed to fund medication-assisted treatment programs for the uninsured by increasing access to methadone and Suboxone. It also requires the Department of Health and Human Services to seek federal funding while establishing a statewide recovery and treatment system that connects those with opioid addiction to related services.

The proposal could dovetail with Medicaid expansion, which voters approved last year and could also help the uninsured access treatment. The LePage administration has not yet implemented Medicaid expansion.

Bob Fowler of Milestone Recovery says it would help many of their clients.

“Many, more than half of those individuals, don't have health insurance presently,” Fowler says. “And so their prospects for after care are quite limited.”

The bill requires additional votes in the legislature before it's sent to Gov. LePage, who has mostly led a law-enforcement focused approach to combating the opioid crisis.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.