Today was the first of several meetings for the Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Interim Study Committee, assembled to discuss a number of topics including Chronic Eye Disease, Vision Services and Opioid Treatment Medication.
Chronic Eye Disease
Children and Adults alike are affected by chronic eye disease throughout the Hoosier state. Little has been done to assist the numerous amount of visually impaired children struggling with development.
The Public Health, Behavioral Health and Human Services Interim Study Committee was assembled to consider public policy that would assist individuals with chronic eye disease – such as glaucoma – in removing barriers to long term access to effective treatment therapies according to House Resolution 69.
A topic of discussion centered on the ability for individuals to refill prescriptions to certain eye drops used to treat glaucoma before the standard 30-day refill (“early refill”). Testimony indicated that many individuals with glaucoma use more than one drop per day and oftentimes need to refill the prescription before the standard 30-day refill date.
Many expert witnesses were called to speak on the topic of visual impairments and what can be done to improve the treatment and education of children who are visually impaired.
In addition, those that testified indicated that it may be a good policy to allow school age children with chronic eye diseases to fill multiple prescriptions at one time so they could have one prescription at home, as well as a prescription available at school.
Visually Impaired Preschool Services (VIPS) is a nonprofit organization based in Indiana and Kentucky and sent representatives to the study committee meeting today to express how Indiana can improve on its current policies and programs regarding education to the visually impaired and the parents of visually impaired children.
VIPS representatives explained the struggle parents face with providing care for their visually impaired children and suggested a collaboration with Indiana based First Steps Vision Services to improve access to therapy and treatment for visually impaired Hoosier children ages three and under.
Early intervention therapy has been shown to improve a child’s chance of overcoming developmental delays caused by visual impairments. These programs can maximize a child’s ability to live independently and contribute to society.
State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) said, “I hope the discussion we had today will lead to legislation that will provide resources to families with visually impaired children.”
Opioid Treatment Medication
Testimony was heard regarding opioid treatment programs and the regulations pertaining to giving patients multiple-day supplies of medications to take home in order to treat their conditions.
Opioid treatment programs provide medication assisted treatment to persons seeking to recover from opiate addiction. In 2013 there were over 10,000 patients treated for opioid addiction in Indiana. In addition to counseling services, patients are treated with medications such as Methadone, Buprenorphine, and Suboxone.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1218 prohibits an opioid treatment program from prescribing, dispensing, or providing more than a seven day supply of opioid treatment medication to a patient to take out of the facility.
While patients are often administered these medications while supervised at a clinic, some patients are able to take home 7-day supplies of these medications so they do not have to travel to and from the clinic on a daily basis.
Opioid treatment programs set forth compliance regulations for patients to qualify to take home these medications to treat their opiate addiction. Testimony from mental health professionals stated that the take home medication policies are generally effective in treating the patients’ opiate addiction.
The ability for patients to take home these medications make treating their addiction more convenient since they do not have to visit the treatment facilities on a daily basis.