Ohio Budget: House targets opiate addiction crisis

Ohio House Republicans on Tuesday announced they’re pouring an extra $170.6 million into fighting the opiate addiction crisis.

As Ohio leads the nation in accidental drug overdoses, state leaders are reaching for multiple fixes. The House budget plan carves out $170.6 million, including $12.2 million for prevention and education, $130 million for treatment options, $19.4 million for mental health supports, and $9 million for job training. Money is also earmarked to develop a smartphone app that will help guide addicts or their family members to treatment and recovery options.

“I realize this is one step in the process. This conversation is going to continue for a long time,”said House Finance Committee Chairman Ryan Smith, R-Bidwell.

March 2017: Ohio sets one-week limit on pain killers

RELATED: 2016 set for record year for overdose deaths

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The program includes mandating that insurance companies cover tele-medicine for mental health services so that patients in under-served areas have access to counseling, establishing ‘mental health’ courts similar to drug courts, allocating more money to child protective services and kinship care to help kids who lose parents to drug addiction, spending $20 million to build new treatment facilities and allocating $9 million for regional detox centers.

Despite investing almost $1 billion a year to fight drug abuse and addiction — much of it through expanded Medicaid — accidental overdoses in Ohio claimed 3,050 lives in Ohio in 2015, up 20.5 percent over 2014.

Lawmakers are also seeking to require driver’s education classes include instruction on drug abuse, the science of addiction and the effect of psychoactive substances while driving.

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