Senate gives strong approval to methadone bill

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(Host) The Vermont Senate has given its unanimous approval to legislation that supporters hope will expand methadone services throughout the state.

The proposal is one of the top priorities of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee this session. Committee Chairman Jim Leddy says a key part of the bill is a provision that will allow more health care groups to sponsor methadone facilities.

Under current law, only hospitals can operate a clinic and only one – Fletcher Allen in Burlington – has opened a facility:

(Leddy) “This limitation is a major impediment to delivering the treatment that’s needed throughout this state. That is an important change in this current law -it’s one that is highly needed.”

(Host) The legislation would also allow patients who’ve demonstrated a good track record with their clinic to take home a limited supply of methadone, so they don’t have to go to the clinic every day. That’s a practice that’s prohibited under current law:

(Leddy) “It is absolutely counter-therapeutic to create what amounts to jail for someone whose life is coming back together, who wants to work, who literally every day has to get up and travel untold miles to get treatment. There’s nothing therapeutic in that amount of time it becomes punitive. It doesn’t work.”

(Host) The measure will come up for final approval in the Senate on Wednesday afternoon.

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