A total of 57 new laws took effect Monday January 1 including the Legislature's attempt to get a handle on the skyrocketing price of insulin and other diabetes treatment drugs.
Senate Bill 539 was strongly opposed by the drug and pharmacy representatives. It requires the state Health and Human Services Department compile a list of drugs essential to treat diabetes and the drugs on that list that have seen significant price increases in the past two years. That list would be public.
It also requires the manufacturer of those drugs to submit to the department an annual report about the cost of the drugs, list those that have significantly increased in price and the reason for the increase.
It further requires organizations that advocate for patients or medical research to provide information about what payments, donations and other things of value they've received from drug makers and pharmacy benefit managers.
Also new January 1is SB474, a sweeping attempt to deal with the opioid addiction crisis.
The bill limits initial opioid pain prescriptions to just a 14-day supply, require doctors and other professionals who prescribe pain medications to have solid reasons for prescribing, conduct an assessment of the patient's vulnerability to addiction and develop an evidence based diagnosis and treatment plan.
SB474 further says no patient should be prescribed those drugs for more than a year and requires a documented explanation why they're exceeding 365 days if necessary.
Backers of the plan, which Gov. Brian Sandoval listed as one of his priority measures in the 2017 Legislature, say it doesn't prevent patients from getting appropriate medications but establishes good practices for prescribing them.
Several laws revamping and strengthening controls over guardianships also are in effect. SB360 imposes stiff penalties for the abuse, neglect, exploitation, isolation or abandonment of an older or vulnerable person by guardians who are supposed to protect them. Acts that result in bodily harm would be a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. In AB130, the state tightens restrictions on the ability of guardians to dispose of or sell a ward's property and requires court approval to pay attorney fees from an estate.
That law also created the State Guardianship Compliance Office headed by an officer appointed by the Supreme Court.
That officer would have the ability to hire two accountants and two investigators to audit and investigate complaints and other abusive conduct. Authors of the law say there have been cases where guardians essentially emptied the bank accounts and other assets of the person they were charged with protecting.
The bill appropriates just under $1 million over the biennium to run the office.
AB249 and SB233 both mandate that public and private health plans cover access to contraception. Both, however, allow an organization an exemption based on religious beliefs. AB249 would require the state to pay the federal share of Medicaid family planning services and supplies.
In addition, SB122 provides for access to family planning services in the state. But the bill contains no funding, relying instead on gifts, grants and donations.