Mississippi State Representative Joel Bomgar
State Representative Joel Bomgar's office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 3/19/2019 9:38:08 AM.
What district of Mississippi do you represent?
District HD 58.
Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?
Like many other states in the country, Mississippi is struggling with an addiction crisis. Since 1990, the rates of opioid prescriptions, usage, and overdose have increased dramatically. The prescription and overdose statistics present an interesting picture for Mississippi: our state has a relatively high number of opioid prescriptions, but we have one of the lowest overdose rates in the country.
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?
During this legislative session I have introduced the Opioid Crisis Intervention Act (HB 881), a multi-faceted bill that included provisions to improve the Good Samaritan Law, allow the use of telemedicine services in addressing the epidemic, pre-arrest diversion programs for non-violent offenses, prevention of driver’s license suspensions for individuals convicted of controlled substance offenses, establishment of drug court eligibility program, MAT treatment during the drug court program, and opioid treatments for terminally ill patients in hospice care.
What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?
I was involved with drafting, introducing and advocacy of this bill.
Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?
The measure did not pass due to toxic politics around other issues that I have been working on (civil asset forfeiture).
What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?
It’s hard to sum it up. I spent several years researching the statistics and digging deep into the drug use and fatalities data. I would say the most memorable experience was when I found that all of the facts and data supported my theory that we shouldn’t try to cut people off, and I presented those findings at a meeting of the Governor’s appointed Opioid Task Force and the Board of Medical Licensure.
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?
It would remove all regulations on doctors, patients, and treatment providers to allow the free market to address the crisis in a way that serves both patients and the public at large.