opioid epidemic

Glynis Board / Ohio Valley ReSource

If you’ve ever enjoyed a Budget Saver twin popsicle on a hot summer day, you can thank the employees of the Ziegenfelder frozen treat factory in Wheeling, W.Va.

Floor operator Sonny Baxter keeps the line of popsicles going in the cherry-scented worksite.

“You have to have a comprehension of how the line works, how to make them run as smooth as possible,” he says. “You have to supervise the line workers that are bagging the popsicles. You’re a friend. You’re a leader.”

Andy Chow / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The clock is ticking for Gov. John Kasich who has until Friday night to sign the $65 billion state budget that not only fills a revenue shortfall but makes some major policy changes. And there’s at least one change that could set the stage for a veto fight. 

The budget bill headed to Kasich’s desk cuts government spending across the board, gets rid of several funds that support local governments, reduces the number of tax brackets, and invests more than $175 million in the opioid epidemic.

State lawmakers are trying to hash out a final budget deal that they can send to the governor’s desk. This includes how they’ll spend money to fight the opioid epidemic while closing a more than $1 billion budget hole. There’s a big issue that looms over the discussion.

The largest chunk of state spending is Medicaid. 

But the Congressional health care debate includes talks of dramatically cutting federal funding for Medicaid and Medicaid expansion, the latter has enrolled more than 700,000 Ohioans.

Naloxone kits
Annie Wu / Ideastream

As the opioid epidemic grows in Cuyahoga County, all Cleveland police cars are now equipped with spray version of the medication needed to counteract an overdose. Until recently, only Cleveland paramedics and fire fighters carried the drug.

GOOGLE CREATIVE COMMONS

Ohio’s Republican attorney general this week sued five drug manufacturers, claiming they contributed to the state’s painkiller epidemic with false claims about their products' addiction and efficacy. The AGs office is not, however, committing to going after another major link in the pharmaceutical chain.

Drug distributors like Dublin-based Cardinal Health were noticeably absent from Mike DeWine’s lawsuit. Cardinal paid $20 million to settle a lawsuit by West Virginia officials who said Cardinal helped flood the market with pills that led to widespread abuse.

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