J.D. Vance, author of the bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy,” endorsed Attorney General Mike DeWine for governor at a Saturday opioid panel discussion in Dayton.
DeWine, who is seeking the Republican nomination, sat on a panel at the Cornerstone Project which does outpatient treatment, was joined by his running mate Jon Husted, Montgomery County Sheriff Phil Plummer, and Mike Ward, founder of the Cornerstone Project.
“The fact that he has made his 12-point action plan to end the opioid epidemic the centerpiece of his campaign shows that Mike DeWine is the leader with the vision and experience to lead Ohio,” Vance, a Middletown native, said in a statement following the panel.
The panelists emphasized the need for a collective effort to help people with addiction and praised Cornerstone Project’s approach.
Ward said day or night, Cornerstone can do intake, schedule someone to see a doctor and make a case manager appointment and that they might work with someone for 12 or 13 hours a week. He said they stay and support people on their path to recovery and can also eventually move people into a Cornerstone staff position with benefits.
“This is what it’s about. A collective effort to move people from that devastating time of their life to a place where you can now pay your bills,” he said. “You can now do those things you want to do for your children.”
A group of Democrats held a press conference outside the 4124 Linden Ave. center, saying if DeWine was concerned about opioid addiction then he would commit to preserving Medicaid expansion.
Medicaid covers about four in 10 non-elderly adults with opioid addiction, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, which collects health data.
Paul Bradley, a Dayton Democrat running for State Senate District 5, said the state needs a governor who will commit to protecting Medicaid expansion and recognize the role it plays in paying for opioid addiction treatment.
“We know that the number one tool that we have in fighting opioid addiction is Medicaid,” Bradley said.
DeWine said Medicaid is important for helping people with addictions, but the costs of the current design of Ohio’s Medicaid program and expansion are unsustainable.
“We’ve got to do a reformed Medicaid that is more efficient and meets the needs of people who need help,” he said.
He said as governor he would ask the federal government to allow the state to redesign its Medicaid program. He voiced support for work or job training requirements — which Ohio is currently seeking approval for — and said Medicaid needs to be designed to put people on a pathway to independence.