KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Medication-Assisted Treatment Works For Opioid Addiction — But Nearly 80% Of Users Aren’t Getting It

Experts say the shortfall is caused by a dire lack of coordination in the system, a lack of a standardized method of care for the growing crisis and confusion about what treatment even is and how long it should last. Media outlets report on the crisis out of Missouri, Maryland, Oregon, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Texas.

St. Louis Post Dispatch: Proven Treatment Is Out There For Heroin Addicts. But Good Luck Getting It In Missouri.
Dante Bonzano had a reputation for being one of the best concrete finishers and bricklayers around. He often worked knee-to-knee with his father, who trained him from a young age to be a devout Jehovah’s Witness and work 12-hour days. The proud father used to say everything the boy touched turned to gold. But that didn’t turn out to be true. By the time he was a grown man, Bonzano was often in reach of a can of Bud or a syringe. His life passed in and out of Missouri’s prison system. (Bogan, 4/10)

St. Louis Post Dispatch: 'Good Samaritan' And Drug Database Proposals Move Forward As Missouri Grapples With Opioid Crisis
Longtime advocates for measures that address an opioid crisis plaguing both the nation and the Show-Me state are cautiously optimistic that they’ll become law this year. A fervent opponent to a prescription drug-monitoring database, Sen. Rob Schaaf announced last week that he would no longer resist a proposal that would establish one in Missouri. Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has stifled similar bills for the past five years, citing privacy concerns. (Bott and Huguelet, 4/10)

The Associated Press: Workers Comp Programs Fight Addiction Among Injured Workers
Meet a victim of the nation’s opioid addiction scourge: the American worker. A number of U.S. states are taking steps through their workers compensation systems to stem the overprescribing of the powerful painkillers to workers injured on the job, while helping those who became hooked to avoid potentially deadly consequences. (Salsberg, 4/10)

The Baltimore Sun: Package Of Bills To Fight Heroin Crisis Passes
The General Assembly passed a suite of bills designed to tackle Maryland's worsening heroin crisis, putting finishing touches Monday on measures to improve drug awareness education and help addicts get into treatment. Fighting heroin addiction has broad bipartisan support and the legislature was deluged with policy ideas, weighing more than two-dozen bills. Work groups of lawmakers whittled down the ideas and moved forward quickly with a package of legislation in the final weeks of the session. (Duncan, 4/10)

Concord (N.H.) Monitor: Opioid Epidemic Adds To Child Neglect Cases
Every 19 hours on average, a baby was born exposed to drugs last year, according to state data. As the opioid crisis continues to ravage New Hampshire, the Division for Children, Youth and Families has seen a surge in the number of babies born exposed to substances and the number of child maltreatment reports related to addiction. (Morris, 4/10)

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: 50 Times Stronger Than Heroin, Fentanyl Now 'The Real Killer'
From the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office to community health centers, an unabated opioid crisis continues to overwhelm the county’s public health infrastructure, several drug experts said Monday. Much of the problem over the last year is tied to the narcotic fentanyl, which can be more than 50 times as powerful as heroin, and has flooded into the community. (Fauber, 4/10)

Pioneer Press: Report: Opiate-Related Overdose Deaths Rise Dramatically In Ramsey, Hennepin Counties
Opiate-related overdose deaths rose dramatically in Ramsey and Hennepin counties from 2015 to 2016, a report on metro-area drug-abuse trends has disclosed. In Ramsey County, 62 accidental opiate-related deaths occurred last year, compared to 47 in 2015, a 32 percent increase, according to “Drug Abuse Trends in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan Area” by Carol Falkowski, a leading expert on such trends. (Ojeda-Zapata, 4/10)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Dr. Oz At Philly's Heroin Encampments: 'I Just Walked Into Hell'
America’s best-known physician, Mehmet Oz, came to Philadelphia’s rail-side heroin encampments Monday for the kind of medical education seen by few doctors, let alone his daytime television audience. “I just walked into hell,” said Oz, wearing jeans and hiking boots, as he picked his way along big piles of discarded syringes along the Conrail tracks in West Kensington. (Wood, 4/10)

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