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Opioid bills pass Wisconsin Senate

Designed to tackle opioid epidemic

Opioid bills pass Wisconsin Senate

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Several bills in the Wisconsin State Senate were voted Tuesday that look to address opioid addiction in the state.

With bipartisan support, the Wisconsin Senate passed all nine bills looking at opioid addiction Tuesday.

Some of the bills include increasing treatment options and creating a high school for addicted students.

Doctors said it's one step closer to fighting the battle of opioid addiction.

Dr. Chris Eberlein is an emergency room physician at Gundersen Health System.

"We just tallied the numbers from last year, and there were 1,600 visits to our emergency room department resulting from opioids,” Eberlein said.

It's a staggering number, even for medical professionals.

"When you see that number, 1,600, it is concerning,” Eberlein said.

Nine bills passed in the Senate Tuesday, designed to tackle the problem with opioids. They include more funding for county treatment programs, more resources for school addiction training, as well requiring a prescription for drugs containing codeine, which is found in cough syrups.

"It will receive strong bi-partisan support,” said state Sen. Jennifer Shilling.

Another bill aims to provide more funding to hospitals, to train more doctors in treating addiction.

"One thing we've really been missing are providers that are trained to do medicated assisted treatment to treat these patients,” Eberlein said.

But while the bills received strong support, Shilling said more can be done.

"We are past the time for pilot programs and trial balloons. We know what works. We know the needs of transitional housing, of treatment, of increasing reimbursement rates, and many of those items could be achieved through Medicaid infused dollars,” Shilling said.

But doctors say it's more about research, and finding different new ways to treat addiction.

"The success rate of our treatments is low, and we need to keep finding more novel treatments and ways to treat this epidemic than we have,” Eberlein said.

A Community Drug Forum is planned for May 15 from 6-8:30 p.m. at the Stoney Creek Inn of Onalaska.

It's meant for those seeking help for drug addiction.

Resources are available for treatment, recovery, and support providers available from 5-7 p.m.

The bills head to Gov. Scott Walker's office, where he is expected to sign.

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