KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Most Effective Opioid Addiction Treatment Banned From Majority Of Jails

Much of the criminal justice system still takes a punitive approach to addiction. Many who work in corrections believe, incorrectly, that treatments like methadone, itself an opioid, allow inmates to get high and simply replace one addiction with another. In other news on the crisis: driving under the influence; answers about the epidemic; how health law repeal would hurt those fighting addiction; and more.

The New York Times: Opioid Users Are Filling Jails. Why Don’t Jails Treat Them?
When Dave Mason left jail in October 2015 after his 14th criminal conviction, the odds were good that he would end up dead. A man with a longtime heroin addiction, Mr. Mason was entering one of the deadliest windows for jailed users returning to the streets: the first two weeks after release, when they often make the mistake of returning to a dose their body can no longer handle. (Williams, 8/4)

USA Today: Opioid Crisis: Proportion Of Drivers Killed While Under Influence Spikes
In one of the latest examples of the growing opioid epidemic, researchers found a seven-fold increase in the proportion of drivers killed while under the influence of prescription opioids since 1995. Researchers at Columbia University examined drug testing results for 36,729 drivers in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and West Virginia who died within an hour of being in a car crash. (Toy, 8/3)

The Associated Press: Homeless And On Heroin, But Turned Away From Treatment
Nearly two decades of using heroin and a year of living on the streets of Philadelphia had led Steven Kemp to a simple conclusion: It was time to get sober. But when he staggered into a detox facility on a recent Friday night, his head brimming with the thought that suicide would end the pain, he was told he couldn't be admitted because he didn't have a photo ID. (Izaguirre, 8/4)

NPR: Longtime Heroin Addict Fights For Recovery
Two summers ago, we met a woman who went by the name Teacup. "I'm an active heroin user," she told us. "Thirty-three years as a matter of fact." We were in West Baltimore, reporting on a citywide effort to stop a growing opioid crisis. On a street corner known for its open-air drug market, health workers trained anyone passing by on how to use naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. They were trying to get naloxone kits into as many hands as possible. (Cornish and Hsu, 8/3)

The New York Times: Short Answers To Hard Questions About The Opioid Crisis
This week, President Trump’s commission on combating the opioid crisis, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, recommended that the president declare a national emergency. The problem has become significantly worse recently, so you might feel that you could use a little catching up. Here are 11 things you need to know. (Katz, 8/3)

The Baltimore Sun: ACA Repeal At Odds With Trump Response To Opioid Crisis, Former Drug Czar Says 
The former White House drug czar questions the Trump administration’s commitment to dealing with the nation’s deadly opioid crisis while President Donald J. Trump continues to call for repeal of the Affordable Care Act. The 2010 law defined addictions treatment as an “essential benefit” that must be covered through insurance policies sold in ACA marketplaces and through the expansion of Medicaid. (Rodricks, 8/3)

Denver Post: Drug Addiction Treatment Center Investors Buy Lodge At Cordillera
A $136 million plan to convert the upscale Lodge and Spa at Cordillera into a high-end drug treatment facility is moving forward. The investment group behind the project closed on the lodge this week and the $20 million first-phase of renovation is slated to begin in September as the new owners, led by Concerted Care Group, convert the 56-room lodge, restaurant and spa into a private drug rehabilitation center. (Blevins, 8/3)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: What It's Like To Make Art On The Front Lines Of Philly's Opioid Epidemic
Along Kensington Avenue these days, people are dispensing with the niceties. A man panhandling on a recent Tuesday morning made his pitch, in Sharpie on cardboard, simple and clear: “Dope sick.” Dealers openly sought clients on the sidewalk. Users slouched against walls. And artist Kathryn Pannepacker stood outside the Kensington Storefront, inviting them all inside. There was air-conditioning in there, she told them, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in plastic baggies, hot tea and cookies, and a craft project to complete. (Melamed, 8/4)

Kansas City Star: How Will Missouri Pay For Troppers To Have Opioid Overdose Drugs?
In his push against the opioid epidemic, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last month signed an executive order that would equip Missouri state troopers with an anti-overdose drug. What remains unclear is how long it will take to train troopers and other state law enforcement officers to use the drug, naloxone, and where the money will come from. (Sanderson, 8/3)

Kaiser Health News: To Grow Market Share, A Drugmaker Pitches Its Product To Judges
Philip Kirby said he first used heroin during a stint in a halfway house a few years ago, when he was 21 years old. He quickly formed a habit.“You can’t really dabble in it,” he said. Late last year, Kirby was driving with drugs and a syringe in his car when he got pulled over. He went to jail for a few months on a separate charge before entering a drug court program in Hamilton County, Ind., north of Indianapolis. But before Kirby started, he says the court pressured him to get a shot of a drug called Vivitrol. (Harper, 8/4)

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