KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Opioid Treatment Demand Puts Strain On Limited Resources

As the nation fights an epidemic, a shortage of doctors and medication hamper the efforts. Meanwhile, Democrats on Capitol Hill are calling for more funding, but are running up against Republican resistance.

Stateline: Waiting Lists Grow For Medicine To Fight Opioid Addiction
After more than a decade of getting high on illicit opioid painkillers and heroin every day, Christopher Dezotelle decided to quit. ... It’s been five years since Dezotelle started treatment the first time, and he still hustles for drugs every day. Only now, instead of heroin or OxyContin, he’s trying to score buprenorphine, one of three federally approved opioid-addiction medications. He says heroin is much easier to find, and it’s less than half the price of buprenorphine .... Nationwide, a shortage of doctors willing to prescribe buprenorphine, which reduces drug cravings, and a federal limit on the number of patients they can treat, prevents many who could benefit from the addiction medication from getting it. (Vestal, 2/11)

The Associated Press: Dems Seek Drug Abuse Funds As Election-Year Issue Sharpens
Congressional Democrats called Thursday for hundreds of millions in emergency spending to fight drug abuse but ran into Republican resistance as another health issue spiraled into an election-year showdown. With the calendar edging deeper into the campaign season, the latest dispute echoes other clashes over whether the federal government should use more taxpayer dollars to contain the Zika virus and help Flint, Michigan, recover from a public health crisis in which its water system has been contaminated with lead. (Fram, 2/11)

The Huffington Post: Democrats Push $600 Million Emergency Heroin Bill
With Congress gradually edging around to actually treating the opioid and heroin abuse crisis as a crisis, Senate Democrats tried to ratchet up the pressure on Republicans Thursday to put some money into confronting the problem. The move came just after the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, which aims to shift the federal response away from law enforcement efforts and toward prevention and treatment. (McAuliff, 2/11)

The Hill: Senate Dems Vow Fight Over Drug Abuse Funding
A funding fight is threatening a bipartisan bill aimed at fighting the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse. Senate Democrats said Thursday they will seek to attach $600 million in emergency funding when the bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) comes to the Senate floor after next week’s recess. Democrats said CARA is a good first step, but faulted it for only authorizing new spending, meaning that any dollars actually going out would depend on the appropriations process. They say that emergency appropriations are needed. (Sullivan, 2/11)

And in Massachusetts, dental schools will begin introducing opioid addiction prevention training into their curriculum —

WBUR: Dental Schools To Introduce Training On Opioid Abuse
As he waits on the Legislature to compromise over opioid abuse prevention strategies, Gov. Charlie Baker on Thursday detailed an agreement reached with the deans of the state’s three dental medicine schools to introduce training for opioid abuse prevention and management into their core curriculums. (Murphy, 2/11)

The Boston Globe: Dental Schools Adopt Strategy To Combat Opioid Abuse
The three dental schools in Massachusetts have agreed to teach skills in managing pain, prescribing painkillers, and detecting improper use of those drugs, as part of the effort to combat the state’s opioid crisis. Governor Charlie Baker announced the initiative Thursday. It follows a similar agreement in November among the four medical schools in the state, which adopted a curriculum aimed at equipping doctors to prevent and respond to abuse of powerful drugs. (Freyer, 2/11)

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