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  • October 21, 2021 6:34 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Medical Society | Medigram

    The Wisconsin Medical Society joined with the Wisconsin Society of Addiction Medicine (WISAM) in supporting state legislation that can protect lives by preventing inadvertent fentanyl overdoses. The legislation, Assembly Bill 619, would decriminalize the possession and use of fentanyl test strips (FTS), which can be easily used to test substances for the presence of the powerful drug. The bipartisan bill is authored by Reps. Jesse James (R-Altoona) Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).

    “Saving lives should never be a partisan issue or be up for debate,” Rep. James said in his testimony as the main author of the legislation.

    Society member Ritu Bhatnagar, MD appeared before the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and gave testimony

    Ritu Bhatnagar, MD, testifies in the State Capitol

    WISAM President and Society member Ritu Bhatnagar, MD appeared before the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and gave excellent written and verbal testimony describing what she sees in her practice as Medical Director for NewStart, Unity Point Health-Meriter Hospital’s addiction treatment service branch.

    “I have taken care of people whose lives have been turned upside-down by having a legal charge related to the possession of these fentanyl test strips,” Dr. Bhatnagar testified. “They have had a very difficult time, then, once they’re in treatment with me, trying to get their lives back together, look for work, try to find anything else with this on their record.

    “Everything you’ve heard today about needing to have these (FTS) decriminalized so that people don’t enter the criminal legal system is absolutely essential because of the differential enforcement that’s happening around the state,” Dr. Bhatnagar said.  

    The bill is now eligible for a committee vote. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Wisconsin State Senate as Senate Bill 600. Contact Society Chief Policy and Advocacy Officer Mark Grapentine, JD for more information.

  • October 04, 2021 12:49 PM | Anonymous

    Save the Date for National Addiction Treatment Week!

    Join National Addiction Treatment Week from October 18-24, 2021 and inspire the next generation of medical professionals to treat addiction and save lives! Each year, National Addiction Treatment Week raises awareness about the gap between the number of patients who need addiction treatment and qualified medical professionals available to treat patients using evidence-based approaches. The week highlights the critical need for more clinicians to enter the field of addiction medicine. Check out this year’s engaging schedule of events and ways to be involved! Mark your calendar today, join our partners and collaborators and spread the word to “treat addiction and save lives!”

    • Follow @TreatmentWeek on Twitter-Share the week’s messages using the week’s toolkit
    • Use hashtag #TreatmentWeek to share your perspectives on why it is important to treat addiction
    • Inspire medical students and residents to consider getting certified in addiction care and treatment

    By putting our combined resources to work, we all contribute to the health and wellbeing of patients!

  • September 27, 2021 10:32 AM | Anonymous

    UW School of Medicine and Public Health have 6 free new videos on why and how to address tobacco use among patients with severe and persistent mental illness:

    • 2 videos with administrators on why & how they support this.
    • 2 videos featuring therapists on why & how they treat tobacco use.
    • 2 videos with clients and peer specialists on why & how they succeeded.

    Click to view:

  • September 13, 2021 1:01 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    Lawmakers have brought back legislation that would align state law with federal law by raising the tobacco purchase age to 21, but health groups would like to see the bill amended to have a wider definition of vapor products.

    The bill would align state law with the federal tobacco purchase age, enacted in 2019. 

    The legislation would allow state law enforcement to carry out the requirement since Wisconsin law otherwise doesn’t allow them to enforce non-criminal violations of federal law, bill author Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said at a Thursday public hearing.

    If the state doesn’t comply with the federal law, it could also lose its federal substance abuse and treatment block grant funds, which amounts to $2.7 million annually, Marklein added.

    He noted the bill has the support of business groups, convenience stores and the tobacco industry. 

    “We support this bill because raising the minimum age to 21 is one of the most effective ways to reduce underage use of tobacco products, a goal that we strongly support,” David Fernandez, vice president of public policy for Altria, told members of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

    Health groups would like to see an expansion of the bill’s definition for vapor products.

    Nicole Hudzinski, government relations director for the American Heart Association, said current state tax law defines e-cigarettes as devices and not liquids unless they’re sold together as one packaged item.

    While the bill would apply to liquids with nicotine, it wouldn't for other liquids that also contain harmful ingredients, Hudzinski said. Accessories aren’t covered under the definition either.

    And she added that some products are advertising themselves as gels and would not be included if the bill only specified liquids. 

    “We are really, really encouraging the committee to consider having a more comprehensive definition as we move forward,” Hudzinski said. 

    Committee Chair Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, said he is working on the issue. 

    Sen. Eric Wimberger, R-Green Bay, has a “philosophical problem” with the bill. 

    “And I certainly don’t like the federal government dictating us,” Wimberger said. “The arguments, I think, are kind of obvious, but I won’t have to reiterate them, all about what it means to be 18 and whatnot.” 

    Wanggaard said he supports the plan in part because of concerns with the health effects of vaping. 

     The Assembly approved the legislation in early 2020, but the Senate didn’t take up the bill after it canceled one of its final floor periods due to COVID-19. 

  • September 10, 2021 10:58 AM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Department of Health Services

    A Message from Paul Krupski, DHS Director of Opioid Initiatives

    Living through the COVID-19 pandemic this past year and a half has been difficult for everyone. All of us have been affected in different ways. 

    It has been a trying time for people struggling with substance use. In 2020, 1,227 Wisconsin residents died from an opioid overdose, driven largely by fentanyl and fentanyl mixed with other drugs. 

    We are more committed than ever to our vision of zero opioid-related deaths. This may seem like an unattainable goal, but it is not. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in over a decade, we experienced a decrease in opioid-related deaths. With your support and partnership, we can prevent the consequences of opioid use.  

    We are working on several projects funded in part by new federal and state funding, as well as Wisconsin's share of settlements with the manufacturers and distributors of opioids. We'll provide updates on this work in future newsletters. For now, take a moment to review this newsletter to learn more about some of our current efforts to respond to Wisconsin's opioid epidemic.

    More Information.

  • August 31, 2021 11:57 AM | Anonymous

    DHS Renews Commitment to Reducing Drug Overdoses in Wisconsin
     August 31 is Overdose Awareness Day in Wisconsin
    View the entire news release.

    Governor Tony Evers has proclaimed August 31 as Overdose Awareness Day in Wisconsin, and the Department of Health Services (DHS) is urging residents to reflect on the impact overdoses have had on families and friends of people who use drugs in every corner of the state, and to renew our commitment to end overdoses in Wisconsin.

    “There isn’t a community in our state that hasn’t been impacted by the opioid epidemic, and Wisconsinites who are struggling with substance use disorders deserve our kindness, compassion, and respect as they work toward recovery,” said Gov. Evers. “I’m glad to be declaring today Overdose Awareness Day in Wisconsin to remind us all of the work we have left to do to increase prevention and provide folks with the resources and support they need.”

  • August 24, 2021 11:15 AM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    The University of Wisconsin-Madison is launching a center to coordinate ongoing research and education in psychedelic compounds, including their use in treating substance abuse and psychiatric disorders. 

    The Transdisciplinary Center for Research in Psychoactive Substances, housed at the UW-Madison School of Pharmacy, will study the science, history and cultural impact of psychedelic agents, including their therapeutic potential.

     “Psychoactive agents are the new frontier for potential new therapies and medications,” Paul Hutson, founding center director and a UW pharmacy professor, said in a statement. 

    Four clinical trials are currently underway on campus, including studying the effects of MDMA, or ecstasy, in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and psilocybin, also known as “magic mushrooms,” in treating depression and opioid addiction. Hutson anticipates federal approval for both substances within the next five years.

    The center also seeks to increase participation in research by underrepresented groups. 

    And it will partner on the pharmacy school’s master’s of science program in psychoactive pharmaceutical investigation, the first accredited U.S. degree focused on the study and therapeutic development of psychedelic compounds and related drugs. 

    “We plan to continue being on the forefront of this field with innovation and development of novel therapies through our research and educational programs on psychoactive agents,” Hutson said.

    The Usona Institute, a nonprofit medical research organization that supports work on consciousness-expanding medicine, also aims to be a center for psychedelic science and education. It broke ground earlier this month on a new campus in Fitchburg. 

  • August 18, 2021 10:59 AM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Department of Health Services

    The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is collaborating with three health care providers in different areas of the state to pilot a new approach to treating eligible BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid members who have substance use disorders and at least one other health condition. These providers will use an innovative “hub and spoke” program design to expand beyond traditional substance use disorder treatment services. Wisconsinites served by this new program will include people enrolled in BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid who are struggling with substance use disorders and also have other health conditions that create barriers to their recovery from addiction. The pilot sites will use a “hub and spoke” model to provide integrated services that give eligible members rapid access to comprehensive addiction and mental health treatment, primary care, and other needed supports to assist their recovery.

    “It is past time to get folks the help they need in the way they need it, and we are excited to bring this proven strategy to Wisconsin,” said Governor Tony Evers. “By connecting the dots between substance use disorder treatment and other services, this new model will help us move the needle on ensuring access and effective care for our Wisconsin neighbors who are currently struggling.”

    Read more.

  • August 17, 2021 12:31 PM | Anonymous

    Wisconsin Health News

    Four Wisconsin organizations will receive $1 million each in federal funds to strengthen and expand substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery in rural areas. 

    The recently announced allocations come from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

    Recipients include Duluth Clinic in Ashland, MetaStar in Madison, the Sokaogon Chippewa Community and Hospital Sisters Health System St. Joseph Hospital in Chippewa Falls. 

     Marinette County Group Home Association will also receive $500,000 under a separate grant program to help patients who misuse psychostimulants. 

  • August 06, 2021 2:34 PM | Anonymous

    Biden-Harris Administration Provides $90 Million to Improve Health Care in Rural Communities

    The Biden-Harris Administration announced today that it is providing nearly $90 million to help rural communities combat opioid use disorders (OUD) and other forms of substance use disorders (SUD), and to improve access to maternal and obstetrics care. This funding is being distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

    "These investments address a wide range of critical issues the Biden-Harris Administration is focused on to improve health care in rural communities across the country," said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. "Expanding access to substance use prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery services, and improving the daily lives of mothers and children across America are priorities for the Department."

    HRSA has invested nearly $384 million, including today's announcements, in community-based grants and technical assistance over the last three years through the Rural Community Opioid Response Program initiative to promote the establishment and expansion of SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services in rural communities in 47 states and 2 territories. This includes supporting 30 existing grants focused on neonatal abstinence syndrome.

    "At a time when overdose deaths are rising across America and improvements to maternal health are urgently needed, HRSA is working on multiple fronts to address the health care needs of rural Americans," said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. "Today's announcement furthers HRSA's commitment to improve the wellbeing of people in rural communities."

    HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is making these awards through four key programs:

    • Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation: $78 million is being provided to 78 organizations across 35 states. These awards aim to reduce the morbidity and mortality of SUD/OUD in high-risk rural communities by strengthening and expanding SUD/OUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services.
    • Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Psychostimulant Support Program: $7.5 million was awarded to 15 rural consortia across 13 states. These awards aim to strengthen and expand prevention, treatment, and recovery services for individuals misusing psychostimulants so they can access treatment and move towards recovery.
    • Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies Program: $2.9 million was awarded to three recipients to test models to address unmet maternal and obstetric needs for their rural target populations. This effort will improve access to services for rural mothers and their children through better care coordination, use of telehealth and increased access to prenatal and other related services.
    • Rural Northern Border Region Planning Program: $760,000 was awarded to four community-based organizations to plan and identify key rural health issues in the rural Northern Border Regional Commission service areas.

    Read more.

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