Bad time for Medicaid changes
For many months there has been extensive coverage of the opiate epidemic and of the toll that heroin, fentanyl and other drugs are taking in communities like ours. According to the Columbus Dispatch, at least 4,149 Ohioans died from unintentional drug overdoses in 2016 and, according to the Trumbull County Coroner’s Office, 107 of them took place in Trumbull County.
While we hear much about overdose deaths, much less is heard about recovery from addiction, which is happening in our community every day. In some ways treatment and recovery from addiction is like treatment and recovery from any chronic health problem, like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. It doesn’t involve magic but a combination of education, counseling, mutual support, life style changes, medication and the availability of crisis services when they are needed.
In 2016 a record number of Trumbull County residents received treatment for opioid use disorders through the public behavioral health system. And the largest payer source for most treatment services is the Medicaid program.
Now we are learning of proposals in both the Ohio legislature and the U.S. Congress to make fewer individuals and families eligible for the Medicaid program or to abolish the program entirely. Either measure would have an immediate negative impact on our community and on individuals and families struggling with addiction and working toward recovery. There has never been a worse time to tinker with Medicaid!
I urge every citizen to contact their state legislators and tell them not to rescind the 2013 expansion of Ohio’s Medicaid program and to contact their federal legislators and tell them not to replace Medicaid with a more restrictive program.
Director, Planning and Evaluation
Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board