Congressman Mike Turner (R-10th District) spoke at a press conference during US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar’s visit to Kettering Friday and is proposing legislative changes that would affect children born addicted to opioids.
Ohio is spending more than $1 billion annually to combat drug abuse and addiction at the local level, and officials like Turner are optimistic that new legislation will lift barriers to funding to provide more treatment for Ohio patients, like newborns addicted to opioids, said Turner, and people who remain incarcerated but need treatment.
According to Ohio Gov. John Kasich, $762.9 million was spent in 2017 to treat Ohioans with drug addiction and behavioral health issues; the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services spent another $118.3 million on prevention, treatment for Ohioans not covered by Medicaid (e.g. inmates), recovery housing, peer support and Naloxone.
In addition to the spending, Turner (representing Montgomery, Greene and Fayette counties) said during the press conference that two bills introduced in the House of Representatives would change funding formulas for inpatient and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) programs and allow programs to receive Medicaid in treating both newborns and people who are incarcerated.
Turner delivered comments Friday shortly after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar spoke on what he said is “unbelievable” work being done in Ohio to combat the opioid crisis at Brigid’s Path, an inpatient treatment center in Kettering that helps mothers and babies born addicted to opioids.
Brigid’s Path executive director and founder Jill Kingston said the program is privately funded and there are restrictions on Medicaid funding; additionally the program is capped at having four babies, but the facility has nursery rooms for at least 12.
Turner said he is optimistic that the two introduced bills, the TREAT Act and the CRIB Act, would change some of those size and institutional restrictions that affect treatment for newborns and also for incarcerated inmates.
“Currently our federal programs restrict the use of funds for programs like this and so we’re not able to use monies that are already there by the federal government to help these kids, these newborns. We also find that…Medicaid restricts funding for those that are incarcerated — people have Medicaid benefits, when they get incarcerated lose them, when they’re out of incarceration they get them back again. I have a second bill, the TREAT Act, that would eliminate that impediment, and the CRIB Act, which would eliminate the impediment on newborns. What we need to do is we need to make certain federal monies can be used for these types of interventions because the opioid epidemic is affecting victims of all ages,” said Turner. “What we want to make certain is communities would have the ability to do something like this at Brigid’s Path and use those funds that are coming to the community to buy treatment for newborns.”
Turner continued, “If somebody is incarcerated and they can’t use Medicaid funds for treatment, they can come back out again without having had treatment and they’re of course going to go back to the addiction. That impacts obviously their families, them personally, their children, perhaps their newborns if they had a child just prior to being incarcerated. That’s a time when we have custody or control of them and we could provide them treatment while they’re serving incarceration. When they’ve come back to the community, reunite their families, and put them back in a healthy place.
“We need to save people and the whole concept of treatment is trying to get access to them and making certain the treatment’s effective,” said Turner. “That’s what we need to do is change our funding formula, it’s what the secretary (of Health and Human Services) came here to hear about. I believe, from our conversations, he’s going to go back to Washington D.C. knowing that there are two bills currently sitting there that could change the rules and fund this facility. These concepts are also in the President’s commission. His task force came forward with these very same recommendations, we just need to do it.”
See more in the Record-Herald this week about the Health Secretary’s visit to Ohio and information on what President Trump’s administration is doing to combat the crisis.
Contact Ashley at (740) 313-0355 or connect on Twitter by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton and sending a message.