Youngstown-area lawmaker and declared Democratic candidate for Ohio governor Joe Schiavoni has advanced a plan to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to aid in the fight against widespread opioid abuse.
The Boardman senator calls for about 10 percent of the state’s savings — $200 million — to seed local funding of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services, or ADAMH, boards; law enforcement; Child Protective Services; kinship care; first responders; and establishment and expansion of drug courts.
Forty-five percent of total funding would go toward raising treatment capacity, prioritizing programs currently in operation, that are scalable statewide and have a transportation component, according to Senate Bill 154.
Five percent of funding would pay for data collection with each county being required to submit data to help the state understand the scope of the opioid crisis and fund allocation.
“This bill would allow us to start addressing the opioid crisis immediately and send resources where they’d be most useful,” Schiavoni said in a prepared statement. “Every community is struggling to get a handle on this epidemic, but Columbus’ needs may be different than East Liverpool’s.
“With this infusion of dollars, local communities will have the flexibility to use these funds where they believe they will have the most impact.”
In Ohio, one person dies every four hours from an accidental drug overdose, the lawmaker said, indicating the Buckeye State leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths.
SB 154 contains an emergency clause, meaning that nearly all of its provisions would go into effect immediately after enactment.
“The opiate epidemic shows no signs of letting up,” said joint sponsor of the bill Sen. Kenny Yuko, D-Richmond Heights. “Today alone, it will claim the lives of close to eight Ohioans.
“Under the Republicans’ current plan, this crisis will claim many more lives before any real results are seen. Our bill supplies the state with the funds to effectively address the opiate epidemic as it tears through our communities now. It also gives us the knowledge we so desperately need to properly appropriate funds and achieve the most impactful outcomes long-term for the citizens of Ohio.”
SB 154 calls for an annual allocation of $2 million from the General Revenue Fund to create the Opioid Prevention grant program under the Ohio Department of Education to support school-based prevention education initiatives.
Other provisions of the bill include implementation of drug take-back programs at commercial pharmacies and creation of an online registry of treatment availability.
And, finally, the bill would require implementation of insurance regulations that demand insurers cover Medication Assisted Treatment, including Suboxone and Vivitrol.
“We as a society, as a people, are facing an enemy like none other,” On Demand Drug Testing Chemical Dependency Counselor Ruth Bowdish said in the lawmakers’ press release. “One that transcends generations, ethnicity and even economic status.
“This opioid crisis is taking lives every day. It is only through understanding, care, education and treatment that we stand a chance against this adversary.”
SB 154 has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, but awaits a first hearing.