Prescription painkillers and heroin addiction is plaguing the state of Ohio as well as the rest of the nation. Ohio is taking key initiatives toward curbing the abuse in their state. A package of 11 bills that address heroin and prescription painkiller addiction would divert $180 million in Medicaid dollars toward recovery housing for people fighting addiction as well as many other efforts to help curb opiate abuse in the state.
Much of the state has treatment programs that do not provide housing or are considered "patchwork" programs, as they don't offer complete help. Much more can be done and for this reason, one bill would require each county to have comprehensive opioid treatment programs, including housing. “It's tough to recover if you're using opioids because of an abusive husband,” Rep. Robert Sprague said. Sprague is a chairman in a committee that addresses prescription drug addiction and has hosted forums across Ohio in an effort to learn more about this growing epidemic.
The $180 million distributed to addiction boards would pay for new recovery housing and fund additional beds at current facilities, Sprague said. An estimated $404 million will be saved from these 11 bills being put into law. $9 million of those funds will be used to address specialty court dockets that strictly address addiction issues. It's important to help people with drug problems rather than put them in jail at many times the cost to tax payers.
According to records, Senate Republicans have proposed using Medicaid savings to fund a 4 percent income tax cut. But the cost of addiction on tax payers is overwhelming. The 11 bills are needed to reduce the high costs of addiction, which is bogging down courts and diverting resources from law enforcement. Other government programs like Medicaid and food stamps acquire costs because of addicted individuals. According to Sprague, the cost of addiction is already there and it is enormous. He believes that the 11 bills will pay back 10 times the amount of the investment.
Ohio also has put forth proposals that would require pharmacists to check the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System for every opioid prescription to prevent doctor shopping. They are also mandating that children be educated on prescription drug and heroin abuse and forgo prosecution of drug possession for Good Samaritans who call 911 during a drug overdose. This is important to help prevent deaths by not punishing those who call for help if they suspect someone has overdosed on drugs.
Ohio has been making great strides in the right direction in my opinion. This is not the first article I have written about Sprague and his committee for the outstanding work they have put forth in curbing this epidemic. Hopefully other states will see the rewards Ohio achieves and I hope more will follow suit.