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Needle-Exchange Bill Leaps Hurdles

 A bill creating a pilot needle-exchange program in South Florida received the unanimous backing of a Senate committee Monday, according to theMiami Herald. (paywall alert)

Next week, a House panel reviews the bill, which would provide drug users with clean needles, drug testing and vaccinations at no cost to taxpayers, the Herald says.

Sponsor Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, told the Senate Health Policy Committee that money for the program would come directly from private sources and donations, WLRNreports.

The five-year pilot also would provide drug users, many of whom are uninsured, with primary care services they would otherwise get from local hospitals, University of Miami medical student Hansel Tookes told WLRN.

Tookes, who lobbied for the bill on behalf of the Florida Medical Association, said drug-related hospitalizations of uninsured patients are a burden on taxpayers.