April 11, 2018                  

Sen. Roger A. Picard at (401) 769-4902

Picard bill expands pain therapies covered by insurance

Legislation meant to reduce opioid dependence

STATE HOUSE – Sen. Roger A. Picard is sponsoring legislation aimed at helping to reduce opioid dependence by requiring insurers to cover alternative, non-opioid treatments for pain, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and oriental medicine.

The bill, which Senator Picard is sponsoring on behalf of Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, is one of many bills being considered by the Senate to help address the opioid epidemic. It is meant to ensure that Rhode Islanders have access to non-opioid pain treatments to reduce the likelihood that they could be become dependent on the powerful painkillers.

“A great many of those who struggle with opioid addiction began using opioids as a prescription for pain and became hooked. My bill is intended to ensure patients have access to a broad range of other treatment options besides opioids, so they can avoid them altogether, if that’s what they and their doctor think is right for them,” said Senator Picard (D-Dist. 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland). “Reducing the rate at which opioids are prescribed will help prevent people from becoming addicted. To do that, we have to make sure patients have access to the many other types of pain treatment that exist.”

Under the bill (2018-S 2537), all health insurance contract plans or policies issued in Rhode Island would be required to provide coverage for certain licensed practices including physical therapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, acupuncture and oriental medicine, and would consider such licensed practices as “evidence-based, non-opioid treatments for pain.”

The legislation is cosponsored by Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Joshua Miller (D-Dist. 28, Cranston, Providence), whose committee held a hearing on it April 10. Rep. Michael A. Morin (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) is sponsoring identical legislation (2018-H 7499) in the House.


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