Walker Requests Federal Grant To Address Opioid Epidemic, but Continues to Refuse Dollars from Medicaid Expansion

At the direction of Governor Walker, the Department of Health Services submitted an application to receive up to $15.7 million in federal funding over the next two years to curb opioid abuse and misuse.  The money is available under the 21st Century Cures Act, a massive bill recently passed by Congress with bipartisan support and signed by then-President Obama.

The funding will support community coalitions focused on reducing the non-medical use of opioids among teenagers and young adults, establish a hotline on treatment and recovery services and create opioid-specific treatment programs to reduce travel distance for those in need.  The grant would also create a network of individuals in long-term recovery from opioid abuse who are trained to help people through the process

The above report comes from the Wisconsin Health News.

WHN also reported on a recent presentation by Dr. Aleksandra Zgierska, a UW professor, and president of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.  Her data show that deaths per thousand people from opioid addiction have more than doubled since 2003 in both Wisconsin and Dane County, with Dane County’s increase being greater until the last two years.

WHN quotes Madison Police Dept. Capt. Cory Nelson as saying, “For 28 years I’ve seen drugs come and go on the streets of Madison.  I have never in my life seen what’s going on with heroin currently.”

Click here for slides from the presentation.

It is certainly good news that Gov. Walker is willing to accept federal dollars to address this escalating crisis.  He has also called a special session of the state legislature to consider nearly a dozen bills addressing the problem.   What he has refused to do is accept federal dollars available through Medicaid expansion to increase treatment and prevention options for those who badly need them.

Click here to read “Americans with Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders: The Single Largest Beneficiaries of the Medicaid Expansion.”

UPDATE:  If Republicans have their way, mental health and substance abuse benefits will be stripped from the Medicaid expansion.  Even if governors were enlightened enough to accept the expansion, those benefits would no longer be available.  Click here to read the Post’s story about the loss of benefits for 1.3 million Americans in states where governors accepted Medicaid expansion funds.

UPDATE:  Click here for an account of the latest figures on deaths from the opioid epidemic and the success story of an woman who received treatment.

UPDATE:  Click here for a letter to the editor advocating for the ACA and parity requirement to address the opioid epidemic.