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Spotlight on the Statehouse: April 3, 2014

One week after the election of Nicholas Mattiello, D-Providence, as the new speaker of the House and the subsequent changes in leadership in the General Assembly, legislators proposed and considered bills on health insurance coverage for opiate addiction, the expansion of access to higher education and the use of electronic devices.


Covering opioid addiction treatment

A bill introduced March 25 by Sen. Paul Jabour, D-Providence, proposes making health insurance plans cover opioid addiction treatment, according to a General Assembly press release. Medication that would be covered if the bill were adopted includes drugs used in the event of opioid overdose and those used to treat people abusing opioid substances, according to the bill. The drugs would have to be covered like other medications used to treat mental illnesses.

The bill also proposes requiring Rhode Island health care facilities to submit plans for discharging patients undergoing treatment for opioid addiction to the director of the Department of Health. These discharge plans would include mechanisms for helping patients transition out of facilities, schedule follow-up appointments and remain connected to “inpatient and outpatient services,” according to the bill.


College cred

Rep. Joseph McNamara, D-Warwick and Cranston, introduced a bill to create a three-year pilot program to help Rhode Island adults complete college degrees. The bill attempts to “address the skills gap in Rhode Island” between employers and potential employees, according to a General Assembly press release.

The program would be run through a partnership with Charter Oak State College — a Connecticut public online college — and College Unboard, a Providence-based degree completion program. One thousand adults who have earned nine hours of college course credit would be served at a facility in Rhode Island run by Charter Oak, “where instruction, student services and education program administration are provided, and educational credentials are granted,” according to the release. The program would be overseen by the Rhode Island Partnership Project, a branch of the Department of Education’s office of higher education. The legislation will come before the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare, which McNamara chairs.



The House Judiciary Committee heard several pieces of legislation at its Tuesday meeting that proposed placing restrictions on the use of electronic devices for individuals and institutions, according to a General Assembly press release.

A bill introduced by Rep. Charline Lima, D-Cranston and Providence, proposes prohibiting Rhode Islanders from using cellphones while driving “a commercial motor vehicle” in accordance with federal regulations. Another bill, introduced by Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr., D-Bristol and Portsmouth, would prohibit using “a computer, phone, smartphone, tablet or any like device” to defame or threaten students at Rhode Island schools and colleges.


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