Maine State Representative Anne Perry

State Representative Anne Perry’s office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 10/8/2018 6:14:24 AM.

 

What district of Maine do you represent?

 

Maine Legislative District 140

 

Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?

 

Maine is a rural State. The increase was first noticed in the rural counties as a prescription drug problem. We now have more drug deaths involving opioids than deaths by car accident. This also shows in increase in burglaries, and hospital emergency use.

 

What are the two or three most significant bills that have been introduced in your chamber to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state?

 

the Prescription Monitoring Program(PMP) in 2003, the limitation on opiod prescribing through the PMP 2014. Needle exchanges, recent passage of Hub and Spoke model for treatment ( Modeled after Vermont success)2018. Washington County pilot Project for treatment in 2018.

Drug Courts.

 

What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?

 

I introduced the PMP bill and passed under the hammer. was not in the legislature in 2014 but as an officer in the Maine Nurse Practitioner Association worked to ensure Prescribing education requirements were met through workshops. Needle exchange was given more funding in 2018. I was on the Health and Human services committee and voted to pass the Hub and Spoke legislation.

Voted for Drug Courts.

 

Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?

 

Unfortunately the Washington County Project was vetoed and could not override the veto. This bill, I, my State Senator colleague, a coalition of providers and citizens in Washington County worked diligently on this with the hope this may be a template to help bring people to treatment when they are ready in rural counties.

 

What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?

 

As a Nurse Practitioner I was working in Calais Maine and over 2 years had diagnosed 4 HCV cases with 3 being in their early 20s. I called the Maine CDC to ask about the rate they were seeing. It looks like Washington County was the Canary in the Coal mine in Maine. After that a group of citizens got together and created an Organization called NADA (Neighbors Against Drug Abuse) in 2000. We worked together to educate ourselves and the community by televising our meetings of local television. We worked in several areas- prevention, treatment and talking to government both Federal and State. Because Calais is a border town with St. Stephen, NB, CA and the problem crossed the border we work with our St. Stephen Counterpart. We were able with the help of a FQHC get a. planning grant to bring treatment to our area. However when we were ready to do this funds dried up due to change in Federal administration. We then put an RFP out to for profit Methadone Clinics to come to our area with the understanding that they would work with the local populace going forward.

The clinic did come to Calais and all meetings regarding this were done in public.

During this time I was elected to the Legislature in 2002 and as result introduced the Prescription Monitoring Bill.

I also worked on doing the first 200 physicals for the Methadone Clinic and continuing my Family Practice clinic work. NADA as a grass roots organization was able to obtain a grant to provide prevention programs. Eventually over the years NADA dissolved as other organizations picked up the work.

 

If you had a magic wand that allowed you to pass any legislation you wanted in order to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state, what would that legislation look like?

 

Universal Health coverage, treatment accessibility, counseling and job training and parenting education and help. This would several bills. I also hope to work with the new Administration in Maine to again try to bring great access to treatment in rural areas.

 

Are there any additional thoughts you would like to share?

 

I am not sure I have answered your questions. I have been involved with this crisis for years on many different levels. We cannot tackle this problem with incarceration. These are real people and with the proper help and opportunities can become vital contributing members of our community. Ensure funding needed for continuation of programs that are working.

I have seen when an addict gets it. It is when the dull look in their eyes disappears and you begin to see the spark of who they are.