KHN Morning Briefing

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Burned Out And Underpaid: Addiction Counselors Fleeing The Industry

The labor shortage is nothing new, but as demand across the country rises due to the opioid crisis and more patients getting health insurance, the industry is struggling. In other news, the Kansas Senate approves a bill creating a new type of addiction counselor, and Hawaii's lawmakers want to make it easier to access drugs to fight overdoses.

NPR: Shortage Of Addiction Counselors Further Strained By Opioid Epidemic
As the drug-related death toll rises in the United States, communities are trying to open more treatment beds. But an ongoing labor shortage among drug treatment staff is slowing those efforts. Each year, roughly one of every four substance-abuse clinicians nationally chooses to leave the job, according to recent research. And that's not just turnover — leaving one job for another in the same field. As an Institute of Medicine report documented in 2006, there's been a shortage of addiction workers for decades. And the demand is only increasing; the Affordable Care Act and other federal laws have given millions more people insurance to help them pay for those services. If only there were enough counselors to treat them. (Corwin, 2/24)

The Kansas Health Institute News Service: Senate Passes Bill To Create New Type Of Addiction Counselor
The Senate on Monday approved a bill creating a new category of addiction counselor, after adding an amendment to prevent privatization of Osawatomie State Hospital. Senate Bill 449 would create the designation of master’s addiction counselors, who could counsel people with substance abuse disorders but would have to work under supervision to diagnose substance use disorders. They could be supervised by a licensed clinical addiction counselor, a psychologist or a person licensed to practice medicine or provide mental health services. (Hart, 2/23)

The Associated Press: Hawaii Bill Would Ease Access To Drugs That Fight Overdoses
Hawaii lawmakers are pushing a bill to make it easier to get medication that counteract the effects of overdoses, and provide immunity for people who administer them. The bill would protect doctors, pharmacists, emergency responders and outreach organizations. It also aims to increase education on abuse of opioids, such as heroin and prescription drugs like OxyContin. (Riker, 2/23)

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