Making Lemonade Out Of Lemons

Remember Governor Kasich’s 20 million dollar solution to Ohio’s opioid epidemic? Of course you do. Spring of 2017 Ohio’s presidential wannabee offered a high tech solution to the epidemic. He put money down, no, not separately in the budget but by offering $20 mil in Ohio Third Frontier Funding to innovators who come up with high tech solutions. This was touted as a win-win for Ohio. The opioid addiction scourge would be addressed while Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! would be provided through the entrepreneurial endeavors of Ohio based new technology providers. Well, back in December of 2017 $10 mil in winners were announced. One winner was Elysium Therapeutics. “It is developing a new kind of pill that would limit how much of the painkilling substance would be released into the body.” “Other projects that got state money include programs that use analytics to identify and prevent addiction, other types of pain management devices, and a web-based service that can streamline recovery services.” (Ohio Awards $10 Million For New Technology Projects To Fight Addiction By Andy Chow for WKSU,12-7-17) . This week Analysis noted a story out of Cleveland. Various reports but Analysis will reference “Cost of methadone treatment skyrockets leaving local treatment center to scramble for funding” by Brenda Cain for Cleveland.com, 2-7-18. “The price of methadone is skyrocketing — from $1 per dose to more than $14 per dose — at one local addiction clinic. Funding for the drug, which interrupts the symptoms of withdraw in recovering addicts, has run out, leaving the agency to scramble for options for its patients.” “Community Action Against Addiction (CAAA), one of two nonprofit suppliers of the drug in the region, told cleveland.com on this week that the abrupt price hike is the result of a loss of funding.” “Clinical Director Mary Bazie said the agency has stopped accepting new clients, unless they are covered by insurance or can self-pay. CAAA has a team of caseworkers helping existing clients, many of whom have low incomes, find other ways to pay for their medication. “Treatment saves lives and we have no intention of just pricing people out of their medications without trying to find alternatives for them,” Bazie said. The agency dispenses an average of 570 doses of methadone every day. Methadone is used to treat heroin abusers and people who have become addicted to opioid-based painkillers. The drug interrupts the symptoms of physical withdrawal from drug abuse. In an email, received Thursday, CAAA Chief Executive Officer Gladys Hall clarified that the potential price hike is not an increase in cost for the methadone, itself, but rather for the entire treatment process — which includes: a daily dose of methadone or Suboxone; random monthly drug testing, medication monitoring, medical consultation, initial physical examination, annual follow-up physical examination, annual tuberculosis test, individual and group counseling, as well as Narcan training and education.” The funding loss was through the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS (who of course gets their funding through other public sources). “Those affected by the price increase included the working poor who earn too much to be eligible for Medicaid and patients who have allowed their Medicaid coverage to lapse, or have shifted to Medicare, which doesn’t cover addiction medication.” Analysis can’t help but note that the Ohio Governor’s magnanimous solution is not one the governor or state would take with regard to the current flu epidemic. The win-win solution proffered by the Governor is characteristic of a perpetual motion machine solution to social problems continuously promoted by the GOP – whether Kasich or Trump GOP matters little. This mechanism prioritizes any opportunity to create wealth in the midst of dire public need. One of the oldest proven methods for recovering addicts to function as productive members of their community is jeopardized by the Pollyanna precedence of making lemonade out of lemons.

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