Michigan getting tough on opioids

South Bend Tribune

The Michigan House took an important step in the battle to rein in opioid abuse.

The House passed legislation that would: create an opioid prescription abuse program for school districts; let Medicaid pay for patient detoxification and rehabilitation services for those with addictions; prevent doctors from giving prescriptions without written parental consent; and let pharmacists refuse to fill prescriptions suspected of being fake.

The proposed legislation, expected to be taken up by the Senate in the fall, shows the legislature is committed to tackling this latest health crisis.

Nearly 2,000 people died in 2015 in Michigan from drug overdoses. National data show that 2 percent of high school students and 2½ percent of adults are addicted to opiates, which can include prescription painkillers such as morphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The crisis also is ravaging Indiana, where opioid painkiller-related deaths have increased nearly 20 percent from 2010 to 2015.

A recent study by the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, found that opioid overdose deaths cost the state $1.4 billion in 20104.

Like Michigan, Indiana is taking steps to address the crisis. The Hoosier state received a nearly $11 million federal grant in April to help pay for treatment costs. Part of that — about $7.6 million — will help pay for as many as 75 additional treatment beds statewide for those who cannot pay for their own care.

But state officials are worried federal funding will dry up with the passage of a new federal budget and the possible replacement of the Affordable Care Act. The Washington Post reports the proposal to replace Obamacare would eliminate the requirement that Medicaid cover basic mental-health and addiction services in states that expanded it. That includes Indiana and HIP 2.0.

Addressing the opioid crisis is never going to be easy, but slashing funding will make it that much more difficult. Congress must provide enough money to support the steps being taken by states such as Indiana and Michigan to confront the opioid crisis. The alternative is unacceptable.

This was distributed by the Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.