First responders, recovery advocates oppose "revival reimbursement" bill

NOW: Narcan proposal

SCARBOROUGH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) --

Some first responders and advocates for substance use recovery said Friday that a bill from Governor LePage could cause more problems and cost the state more money.

Gov. LePage introduced a bill that would require a person who is revived more than once by naloxone, the drug to help a person overdosing, to pay the first responder agency the costs associated with the emergency services.

Operation HOPE volunteer Justin Reid said that the costs could discourage a person from calling to help someone who is overdosing.

"Costs can just add stress and ultimately I think in this case could cost somebody their life," said Reid. "Somebody's life is on the line. You don't have somebody having a heart attack and say, 'well, actually, how much is this going to cost?'"

Reid was once in a similar position. He suffered from a substance use disorder during his 20s, and said he has had to be revived by naloxone.

"They think they're being judged or not getting the services they need because they don't want to walk in somewhere and feel like they're a burden," said Reid. "I felt like a burden to my family. It can be hard to ask for help, but it's important."

Sanford Fire Chief Steve Benotti said the bill is not realistic.

"I fully believe it won't work at all," said Chief Benotti. "I think [LePage is] noble in his effort. He's trying to push forward the crisis that's going on in the state. I think there's better ways to help these people and get them to break the cycle."

Benotti said first responders do not itemize their bills under current law. He said some people they have rescued are on public assistance, and that billing those people would essentially be a larger bill to the state. He also said trying to find out if a person overdosed in another town is not easy because departments do not have access to other town's records. He said he would have to pay his employees more money to work the extra hours.

"The time -- it's a waste of money. We'll put more money into it than we'll ever get out of it," said Benotti.

Reid said treatment is the solution, not penalizing those suffering from a substance use disorder.

"From the day they get into recovery to a year or two later and to see the changes in them and the changes they don't even see at first, then they show somebody else what they've learned, that's the really amazing stuff," said Reid.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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