The Human Cost Continues- Opioid Impact Fee Bill with MaryBeth

On April 9th,  I headed down to Dover with MaryBeth Cichocki.  MaryBeth Cichocki is a registered nurse living in the state of Delaware. She lost her youngest son, Matt, to an overdose of prescription drugs on January 3rd 2015. After his death she was unable to return to her world of taking care of critically ill babies in the N.I.C.U.

She now spends her time advocating and writing about the disease of addiction. She started a blog shortly after Matt died titled Mothers Heart Break, ( mothersheartbreak.com ) which tells the story of Matt’s addiction and continues into the present as she deals with complicated grief. MaryBeth also facilitates a support group for those suffering the loss of a loved one due to the disease of addiction. (Support After Addiction Death).

MaryBeth has testified in her states Capitol during the Joint Finance Committee hearings, sharing her story of the difficulty she experienced while trying to find comprehensive treatment for her adult son during his addiction. She works with legislators in her state to implement changes in how the disease of Substance Use Disorder will be treated in the future. She played a pivotal role in the passing of 6 Bills in Delaware related to treatment for those suffering from Substance Abuse Disease.

MaryBeth is passionate about saving other mothers from her grief. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and dog rescuer.

MaryBeth with a photograph of her son around her neck and David Mangler from the State of Delaware on April 9th at Legislative Hall in Dover Delaware  

MaryBeth with a photograph of her son around her neck and David Mangler from the State of Delaware on April 9th at Legislative Hall in Dover Delaware  

Here is a news article about MaryBeth and what she does for our community:

 https://www.wdel.com/news/video-a-hug-from-matt-mother-helps-homeless-to-honor/article_88d87138-ff0b-11e8-b887-e3c5edadadbf.html

Sooo....

MaryBeth and  I went down to support SB 34 with SA 1- “The Opioid Impact Fee Bill”

But when we got to Dover, we had to make a quick stop to meet with Jim Martin, a pastor serving people with mental health and substance abuse issues and also serving the homeless population in Sussex County.

He met with us in “the Circle” to pick up bags that MaryBeth made for the individuals he serves.  

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She creates these bags called “A Hug from Matt”. The bags include necessities like toiletries and snacks  to benefit someone who may be experiencing homelessness. She also brought really cool blankets made of plastic bags.  They are made with love and are very weather durable.

This is was not the main purpose for going to Dover. This is something Maryeth and Jim have been doing for a while. 

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We were there to witness the presentation of Senate Bill 34- The Opioid Impact Fee. 

Click the link below to read more: 

SB 34 w SA 1   https://legis.delaware.gov/BillDetail?LegislationId=47187 

This bill’s Prime Sponsor is Senator Stephanie Hansen and Co-Prime Sponsor Senator Anthony Delcollo. 

The synopsis:  

“This Act creates a Prescription Opioid Impact Fund (“Fund”) through a prescription opioid impact fee (“Fee”) that is paid by pharmaceutical manufacturer. The anticipated revenue from the Fee is $2.8 million in 2020, $2.7 million in 2021, and $2.5 million in 2022.: 1. The fee is based on the total of the Morphine Milligram Equivalent (“MME”) in each manufacturer’s products dispensed in Delaware, based upon data already reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program (“PMP”). The PMP data contains the mandatory reports by pharmacists of every prescription opioid dispensed in the State. The PMP data does not include prescription opioids administered in hospitals, provided directly to patients by hospice, or dispensed by veterinarians. 2. The fee is assessed on manufacturers who exceed a threshold of 100,000 MMEs dispensed each quarter. 3. The Fee is calculated at a rate of either 1 penny per MME for a name brand prescription opioid dispensed and reported in the PMP or ¼ of a penny per MME for a prescription opioid that is a generic. The Act also provides that Secretary of the Department of Health and Social Services, after receiving recommendations from the Behavioral Health Consortium, the Addiction Action Committee, and the Overdose System of Care Committee, will award grants and contracts from the money in the Fund for the following activities: 1. Opioid addiction prevention. 2. Opioid addiction services, including the following: 3. Inpatient and outpatient treatment programs and facilities, including short-term and long-term residential treatment programs and sober living facilities. 4. Treating substance use disorder for the under-insured and uninsured. 5. Emergency assistance relating to prescription opioids, including purchasing Naloxone. 6. Administrative costs of implementing the Fee and Fund, up to 15% of the amount in the Fund. Finally, this Act expires in 5 years, unless terminated sooner or extended by the General Assembly, so that the Fee is only continued if it is effective and is not creating negative unintended consequences.”

With a cost earning of 8 million dollars over the next 3 years.  

The reason for this bill is to amend or help fix the impact this deadly substance has had on our communities.  The collateral damage is devastating and irreparable for the people that have lost their family members to overdose death. 

The Concerns of the Minority: 

- The pharmacies may not carry the opioid if it becomes too expensive.   

- The increased cost will have more of an effect on the “man at the bottom of the totem poll.

The Defense:  

This will not affect patients that are receiving care at, for instance, an oncology hospital setting. This can save lives. 

The Counter:  

Colin Bonini had more than a few remarks to go “on the record” for this bill.  His initial statements included how much this bill would be worth in comparison to the entire state budget. 

“ .00063 of the whole state budget” and again repeating “ 7/10 of 1 percent of the state budget”. He is quite an arithmetician.  He made a good point about how we tax tobacco and how a percent of that goes towards treating people with “smoking cessation’.  He also made the point that those monies are not well tracked and do not necessarily go towards “smoking cessation” prevention or treatment.  

This prompted Bryan Townsend to get up and walk over to Bonini for a side-bar conversation.  

During this time period, Senator Anthony Delcollo stood up and made a statement about how important it is to work across the isle when it comes to the scourge of the opioid crisis.  He also added that he wanted to make sure it passed, so he worked with Sen. Hansen to add  a “Sunset” to the bill to create more accountability. 

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Senator Stephanie Hansen was very prepared for any remark opposing this bill.  She continued to be clear about the facts and about the affects opioids have had on individuals and their families in Delaware. 

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After the testimony from a Doctor from John Hopkins with specialty in pharmaceutical market, the conversation on the floor changed a bit.  Not one of our 21 Senators is an expert in Economy.  Anthony Delcollo was prompted to stand and go more in depth about the “Level of Suffering” that is taking place in his district and that their is a “Human Cost” to the sale of opioids. This is when I started thinking about all the people that have died from opioid misuse. I turned to MaryBeth and saw her holding back tears, trying to keep composure, while she wipes her wipes her eyes. 

Senator Bryan Townsend chimed in and reminded us that we are facing this issue in “historic proportions”. He proceeded to to call it “unprecedented”and the “calamity” of all this. 

After the second rebuttal from Bonini, the emotions were running higher and MaryBeth ended upon shouting “Yes!”, and held up the photo of her son Matt to Sen. Bonini. The senator then started to address his response to MaryBeth thinking that it was a fellow legislator.  Lt Gov. had to hit the gavel to bring the room back to order.  

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This then “compelled” Senator Hansen’s stand up firmly and  to drive home all the points of the bill in a very passionate and direct way.  To sum up what she said is difficult because it was the off-the-cuff and in the heat of the moment. She pretty much nailed home the importance of addressing this critical issue and to stop worrying about the nuances of what department the funds would eventually come from.   

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The bill passed the Senate with 17-Y AND 4-N.

 

That being said, any monies going to the “Impacted”,  I hope does not reach the hands of the corrupted or egotistical or unethical. Just sayin’

In recent WDEL and Delaware Business Times articles:

 https://www.wdel.com/news/living-illegally-residents-of-glasgow-court-trailer-park-feared-homelessness/article_b8d6cb70-19da-11e9-919e-47df8715d68a.html

 https://www.wdel.com/news/what-went-wrong-in-glasgow-court-delaware-attorney-general-investigation/article_1ca53424-54ce-11e9-8d2a-bf9f3e04605e.html

https://www.wdel.com/news/disabled-senior-lives-without-heat-in-glasgow-court-for-years/article_5e6585f0-3aa5-11e9-a3ab-6f9e25dd4b6b.html 

https://www.wdel.com/news/taking-on-the-full-burden-glasgow-court-landlord-speaks-out/article_eb6d67da-468d-11e9-9544-5bde26500cd5.html 

 https://www.wdel.com/news/glasgow-mobile-home-park-owner-s-plans-submitted-despite-owing/article_72bb116e-bf27-11e7-a424-db8a2756bfd4.html

 https://www.wdel.com/news/glasgow-court-trailer-park-pays-k-delinquent-sewer-balance-just/article_8e97563a-2fd9-11e9-9702-77207b61c026.html

 https://www.wdel.com/news/some-quality-of-life-issues-being-resolved-at-glasgow-court/article_6f526ebc-2323-11e9-be4c-1b2c54557ff0.html

 https://www.wdel.com/living-in-turmoil-ongoing-issues-at-glasgow-court-mobile-home/collection_fb22fd78-19da-11e9-a56f-c74d246699a9.html

 https://delawarebusinessnow.com/2019/02/ribbon-cut-on-the-refuge-treatment-home-for-substance-abuse-patients/

Food for thought. 

 

#my2cents