While the overall intention of Governor Baker’s opioid bill appears to be positive for those in Massachusetts dealing with chronic pain and opioid dependency, it contains a section that would be harmful to injured workers who rely on Massachusetts’ workers’ compensation insurance to pay for their prescription medication. Section 39 of the Governor’s opioid bill would establish drug formularies in all workers’ compensation cases (not just those involving the prescription and use of opioids) and for all medications. Section 39 of House Bill No. H-4033 states:
SECTION 39. Chapter 152 of the General Laws is hereby amended by inserting after the following section:
Section 13 ½. The department shall establish a formulary of clinically appropriate medications, including opioids and related medications, and shall promulgate regulations for the administration of this formulary. In establishing the formulary, the department shall consult with the health care services board and the drug formulary commission established in section 13 of chapter 17 of the General Laws. The formulary shall be based on well-documented, evidence-based methodology, and the department shall include as part of the formulary a complete list of medications that are approved for payment under this chapter, and any specific payment, prescribing, or dispensing controls associated with the drugs on the list. The department shall review and update, if necessary, the formulary at least once every 2 years.