Munoz and DHS commissioner agree: Advanced practice nurses can be key to fighting opioid crisis but costly requirements must be lifted

Munoz and DHS commissioner agree: Advanced practice nurses can be key to fighting opioid crisis but costly requirements must be lifted

TRENTON, N.J. – Assemblywoman Nancy Munoz enlisted Human Services Commissioner Carole Johnson as an ally Monday in her effort to eliminate costly and unnecessary requirements interfering with advanced practice nurses’ ability to treat substance abuse disorder patients.

Nurses must have a “joint protocol” agreement with a doctor certified by the Drug Enforcement Administration to write prescriptions. To order the most effective treatment, they must also contract with a professional able to prescribe buprenorphine, which is used to lessen opioid cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

At Monday’s Assembly Budget hearing, Munoz told Johnson that the arrangements can cost nurses $1,000 a month “for the privilege to take care of substance abuse disorder patients, patients that many other practitioners don’t want to treat.”

“I have suggested that we have an executive order eliminating this because it would increase the number of providers that would address this opioid crisis,” said Munoz, who then asked the commissioner if she would support removing the requirement.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH Asm. Munoz’ discussion with DHS Commissioner Johnson about advanced practice nurses and the opioid crisis.

Johnson said she would “love to be able to deploy advanced practice nurses as part of our solution,” adding that it would “expand our reach substantially.”

The assemblywoman emphasized the benefit of medication-assisted treatment. “They are learning in the medical schools that other therapies alone will not solve this opioid crisis. The MAT, in conjunction, is the only thing that is going to keep people off these drugs,” said Munoz.

Munoz sponsors legislation (A854) eliminating the joint protocol requirement before an advanced practice nurse can prescribe medication.