States’ efforts highlighted in ‘national roadmap’ in fight over opioid epidemic

Washington-DC

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A new report provides a roadmap to ways states can combat the opioid epidemic.

The study was done in Pennsylvania, Colorado, Mississippi and North Carolina. The American Medical Association said recommendations include improving access to comprehensive pain management such as occupational therapy or non-opioid pain relievers.

Researchers said the United States is at a crossroads in its efforts to end the opioid epidemic.

“It is evolving from one where the main driver of opioid deaths were prescription opioids, and now we see that the main drivers are illicitly manufactured heroin and fentanyl,” said Dr. Patrice Harris, President of the American Medical Association.

The AMA’s new study shares effective solutions found in various states. Health officials from North Carolina said removing barriers to treatment helped reduce opioid deaths in their state.

“We know that opioid use disorder is a longterm, chronic condition that requires a lifetime of treatment and recovery,” said Dr. Susan Kansagara, Chronic Disease and Injury Section Chief, North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Pennsylvania leaders said expanding access to Medicaid increases access to care.

“To ensure their health insurance products cover not just inpatient treatment, but also medicated assisted treatment, access to naxolone, the life-saving overdose reversal agent,” said Jessica Altman, Pennsylvania Insurance Department Commissioner.

Last week, the Trump Administration announced it’s providing $1.8 billion in grants spread across all 50 states. The money will cover a range of programs including expanding telemedicine to rural areas and improvements to treatment options in prisons.

“These funds will be delivered to the communities where the help is most needed,” said President Trump.

Supporters said grants help, but longterm solutions are needed.

“These funds are coming in, in one and two year grants. We know to provide treatment, we need to have longterm funding,” Kansagara said.

Researchers hope their findings guide other states in their fight against opioids.

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