This Week's News in Substance Use: 5/12/17

As They Fight the Opioid Crisis, Addiction Counselors See a Grave New Threat: The GOP Health Plan, STAT News

“Republicans have framed their bill as a way to give patients more freedom in their insurance choices, allowing them to buy plans that fit their needs instead of being mandated to buy coverage for services they would never use. But the bill’s huge cuts to Medicaid could cause millions of low-income people to lose coverage. The bill also gives states the flexibility to redefine which “essential benefits” insurance plans must cover — and some could choose to make mental health and addiction coverage optional.

That’s a harsh blow for the recovery community, which was just starting to feel — at last — as though it had the elements in place to at least start combating the epidemic.”

A Public Overdose. An Antidote at Hand. Would Passers-By Use It? New York Times

“Across the country, someone dies of an opioid overdose every 24 minutes. In Massachusetts, the death toll is five people a day.

In the face of this epidemic, Cambridge could become the first city to take a step that until recently might have seemed unthinkable: It might place lockboxes on street corners to give the public easy access to Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, a medication that can rapidly revive people who have overdosed.”

Opioid Crisis Becomes Central Issue in Debate Over Medicaid, The Hill

“The national opioid crisis is becoming a political hurdle for Senate Republicans negotiating an ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill that could end the healthcare law’s expansion of Medicaid. 

Legislation approved by the House would cut off Medicaid expansion in 2020, ending payouts to states and reducing federal funding to the program by about $880 billion, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.”

There's A Drug That Can Prevent Nearly Every Opioid Overdose Death. How Easy Is It to Get in Your State? Pacific Standard

“Pacific Standard looks at naloxone access and Good Samaritan laws nationwide.” Use their interactive map to see how each state measure up.

Trump's Health Secretary Says Addiction Meds Are "Substituting One Opioid for Another", Mother Jones

“When it came time to discuss solutions, Price contradicted guidance from his own agency by asserting that medications to treat opioid addiction are "just substituting one opioid for another." His comments about so-called medication-assisted treatments run counter to years of scientific studies finding that access to the medications, such as buprenorphine or methadone, make drug users more likely to recover.

House Panel Probes Drug Distributors and DEA Amid National Opioid Crisis, The Washington Post

“A congressional committee Monday opened an investigation into the Drug Enforcement Administration’s slowdown of enforcement efforts in the face of a national opioid epidemic and demanded to know why drug distributors had shipped hundreds of millions of painkillers to communities in West Virginia.”

Republican Health Bill Stirs Fear in Opioid-Wracked West Virginia, The New York Times

“In states like West Virginia, which voted overwhelmingly for Trump in November's election, the House bill has stirred deep concerns over its potential effect on drug and mental health programs, in part because it gives states discretion over such spending.”