Local communities who were hoping for new money in President Trump’s public health emergency declaration to fight the addiction crisis were disappointed. But as WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports, they see promise in some of the initiatives.
The only new funding promised in President Trump’s announcement is from the Public Health Emergency Fund – which the Washington Post says now has $57,000 in it. But the plan does allow those who can’t find jobs because of addiction to get Dislocated Worker retraining grants that now go to people who are laid off.
Jerry Craig, head of the Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board, says job training is encouraging. But he’d been hoping for a multifaceted approach that includes a range -- from more funding for treatment beds to student-loan relief for people who work for agencies fighting addiction.
“Right now, it’s not a place where people are going to make a lot of money and when you have a heavy student debt load, then it undermines our ability to get and attract good quality clinicians.”
The Trump announcement includes more emphasis on telemedicine in isolated areas like Appalachia, including allowing prescriptions for addiction-fighting drugs without seeing a doctor in-person.
Ohio is spending as much as $8.8 billion a year on fighting the opioid crisis. Yet, a new study from Ohio State says it’s providing treatment to less than half those who are abusing opioids. Lori Criss of the Ohio Council of Behavior Health & Family Service Providers, says the treatment model needs to change so addiction gets the same insurance coverage and resources as cancer and other diseases.
“We think of prevention services -- sometimes they’re funded by bake sales and PTOs. And that’s just not how we pay for public health awareness on other diseases and conditions. They’re part of a public health response. And so the more we start moving into mainstream public health and personal health and medical financing, the sooner we’ll be able to really generate the responses that people need.”