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NOPE Task Force – Narcotics Overdose Prevention & Education

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Attorney Behind Our Push For Warm Handoff Legislation For Hospitals

Attorney Behind Our Push For Warm Handoff Legislation For Hospitals

NOPE Task Force worked with Michael Barnes at DCBA Law & Policy in helping to pass legislation for hospitals to do more for people suffering from drug overdoses.

Many great people have helped NOPE Task Force achieve our mission over the years. One of them, for sure, is Michael Barnes at DCBA Law & Policy. He and his colleagues worked to secure the passage of what is known as “warm handoff legislation” in Florida. Since the passage of the law in the Sunshine State, Michael and his team have encouraged a model policy for hospitals to use when establishing their own warm handoff protocols.

We asked Michael to explain his support for NOPE Task Force and why he got involved in this legislation.

1) Why have you supported NOPE Task Force over the years?

Michael Barnes: My support for NOPE Task Force stems from my admiration for Karen Perry. Her son Richie’s story is heartbreaking yet also galvanizing because so many opportunities to provide him with care and treatment were overlooked. Karen has miraculously channeled her grief and frustration into motivation and productivity. She is singularly focused on solutions, and for that reason, she is exceptionally effective in her advocacy. I prioritize working with people who command respect and get results, which is exactly what Karen and the NOPE Task Force team have been able to do.

2) Explain your work in helping to pass the Florida hospital legislation that now requires hospitals to devise a treatment plan for those who were in their care after a drug overdose.

Michael Barnes: My colleagues and I supported NOPE Task Force in securing the passage of warm handoff legislation in Florida by analyzing the bill’s provisions in a legal memo to the Attorney General of Florida. Like the attorney general and legislators who were considering the bill, we wanted to make certain that we could advance emergency department warm handoffs without violating the rights of people with substance use disorders. Stigma and discrimination are rampant, and we are wholly dedicated to beating them back. Rapid solutions, though necessary, should never come at the expense of the dignity and the rights of vulnerable people.

3) Have there been any further developments on this legislation?

Michael Barnes: Since our efforts to pass the Florida legislation, we have expanded our legal analysis into a full journal article [link to] published earlier this year in the University of Memphis Law Review. The article includes a model policy for hospitals to use when establishing their own warm handoff protocols. We are also now tracking federal and state laws, policies, and legislation related to emergency department warm handoffs, bridge treatments, discharge planning, and mobile medical services. The journal article, legislative maps, and other resources are available on the WarmHandoff website [link to]

4) What do you think is the way out of our nation’s current opioid crisis?

Michael Barnes: To end the overdose crisis – as well as the suicide epidemic – we must do more to encourage physical and mental health, foster economic opportunity and meaningful social connections, develop systems to identify people who need help, and ensure individuals can access and afford health care. Research shows that drug addiction is the singular issue that worries Americans most. With public concern and commitment to addressing this problem, we have a tremendous opportunity to bring about significant change. We have all the momentum and none of the excuses; the greatest challenge left is to ensure the actions taken are the right ones.

Learn more about Michael Barnes and his experience here:

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