On July 6, 2021, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont signed into law Public Act 21-113 titled “An Act Concerning Opioids” (PA 21-113), which establishes pilot programs to help serve persons with opioid use disorder in urban, suburban, and rural communities, and requires the Commissioner of Public Health to issue and increase awareness of chronic pain treatment guidelines. PA 21-113 became effective on July 1, 2021.

Pilot Program

On or before January 1, 2022, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) is required by PA 21-113 to establish pilot programs in up to five communities featuring teams of at least two peer navigators per team. Under PA 21-113, a “peer navigator” refers to a person (i) with experience working with individuals with substance use disorder, (ii) that provides nonmedical mental health care and substance use services to such individuals, and (iii) has a collaborative relationship with a health care professional who in turn is authorized to provide medications to treat opioid use disorder. The role of the peer navigators will be to: (1) increase engagement between persons with opioid use disorder and providers of treatment, health care, and social services, (2) improve the retention of such persons in treatment for opioid use disorder by addressing social determinants of health of such persons and emerging local conditions that affect such social determinants of health, and (3) increase the capacity of the community to support such persons by identifying and addressing systemic barriers to treatment services, health care, social services, and social support of such persons.

On or before January 1, 2023, DMHAS is required to report back to the Connecticut General Assembly on the success of the pilot program and any recommendations for continuation or expansion of the program.

Chronic Pain Treatment Guidelines

In addition, PA 21-113 requires the Commissioner of Public Health to establish guidelines, on or before January 1, 2022, for the use of evidence-based, nonpharmaceutical therapies to treat chronic pain, including, but not limited to, chiropractic treatment and physical therapy. The Commissioner must also conduct educational and other outreach initiatives to increase awareness of the guidelines.