WV: House of Delegates passes bill to require licensing for needle exchange programs

WSAZ News –

In order to become certified to offer a needle exchange program, an application process must be completed.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – Areas within our region, like Huntington and Charleston, are among those leading the nation when it comes to Overdose

" target="_blank" >overdose deaths and spread of diseases, such as HIV, hepatitis C and B.

In efforts to keep contaminated needles off the streets, West Virginia lawmakers agree that harm reduction programs are needed.

On Friday, the House of Delegates passed Senate Bill 334, which would require any needle exchange program in West Virginia to obtain a license through the state.

Del. Moore Capito said the main goal of this bill is “to strike a balance and create a regulated process for licensure of harm reduction programs in West Virginia.”

Out of four amendments made to this bill, House of Delegate members have adopted three.

Among these adopted amendments, Medicaid dollars would not be used for reimbursement with regard to syringes. Another amendment focuses on liability: if a privately owned business in a district that syringe litter is located on, and someone gets injured, then the business owner would not be involved in any type of lawsuit potentially brought against them.

In order to become certified to offer a needle exchange program, Capito says an application process must be completed.

An application must be made to OHFLAC, a health facility licensure under DHHR. A part of the application requires a written statement from a local municipality and the county commission. If all of that is submitted, then OHFLAC may issue a license.

Once a license has been obtained, Moore says there are certain services and parameters that must be operated within. Examples of these requirements include having HIV and STD screening, offering long-term birth control and drug abuse treatment at every visit, as well as having an onsite health care practitioner. A goal of a one-to-one model is also required, which means that when one needle is given to a person, that same person must return that original needle in order to receive a new one.

Licenses are usable for up to one year.

No criminal penalties will be given when operating under a license. However, violating any requirements can result in fines.

This bill has now moved on to the Senate, where they will look over the newly adopted amendments.

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Tags: Addiction Services Harm Reduction Legislation Needle Exchange Opioid Epidemic" >Harm Reduction
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