Gov. Chris Christie's anti-addiction agenda advances in Legislature

New Jersey's Democrat-led Legislature has advanced bills sought by Republican Gov. Chris Christie to address the state's opioid epidemic.

Assembly and Senate committees approved legislation on Monday to require that health insurers regulated by the state cover inpatient and outpatient treatment for opioid addiction for up to six months.

The bills would also limit initial opioid prescriptions to a five-day supply. That wouldn't apply to cancer and chronic pain patients and for end-of-life care.

Former drug addicts and their families testified Monday before the Legislature on behalf of the bill.

Clinical outreach director Jessica Knowles says giving patients more time in rehab is crucial.

"They're only being given a few days in detoxification centers because it's 'only opiates,' which if anybody knows about opiate withdrawal, is really terrible," she says.

Christie called for the measures during his State of the State address as part of a broader focus on the epidemic. Nearly 1,600 people died from opioids in 2015 in New Jersey.

Christie says he is devoting his final year in office to the drug crisis. Earlier this month, he declared opioid drugs to be a public health crisis.

He says he wants to sign the bills into law within 30 days.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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