Substance Abuse in Cincinnati Prompts New Government Response to Opioid Crisis

that Columbus, Ohio drug rehab centers, mental health facilities, and other clinics will receive a portion of $222 million dollars of additional funding from the state’s 2019-2020 capital budget bill.

In addition to the increased budget, Senator Brown’s letter to the Marilyn Tavenner, President and Chief Executive Officer of America’s Health Insurance Plans, may represent a positive shift toward combating Ohio’s opioid epidemic. Brown addressed many insurance policies, such as pre-authorization, that can be updated to recommend the use of non-habit forming medication alternatives. Brown stressed that Congress cannot fight the battle alone. Without facilitated communication between the U.S. government, law enforcement and health insurers, he argued, there can be no centralized planning or action to curb the opioid crisis.

In March, Brown quoted Dr. Shawn Ryan of Cincinnati, who noted that although insurance companies have made it simpler for patients to be prescribed non-narcotic painkillers or forms of therapy, patients are still granted easier access to addictive opioids than necessary.

Whether insurance providers answer Brown’s call to action is yet to be seen. However, if Ohio’s strategies to reverse its opioid crisis are successful, they may act as a blueprint for other states to study and encourage their own efforts to combat opioid addiction.