KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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The Cost Of Treating An Opioid Overdose: $92,400

Researchers said the cost highlights a troubling trend: that overdose patients are arriving in worse shape, requiring longer stays and a higher level of treatment. In other news on the opioid crisis: a vaccine for addiction, treatment deserts, sober homes, safe injection centers and more.

Stat: The Cost Of Treating Opioid Overdose Victims Is Skyrocketing
The cost of treating opioid overdose victims in hospital intensive care units jumped 58 percent in a seven-year span, according to a new study that concludes increasingly sick patients are placing a greater strain on an overmatched health care system. Between 2009 and 2015, the average cost of care per opioid admission increased from $58,500 to $92,400 in the 162 academic hospitals included in the study, which was led by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. That rapid escalation far outpaced the overall medical inflation rate in the U.S., which was about 19 percent during the period covered by the study. (Ross, 8/11)

NPR: A 'Vaccine For Addiction' Would Be Complicated. No Guarantees
It's always appealing to think that there could be an easy technical fix for a complicated and serious problem. For example, wouldn't it be great to have a vaccine to prevent addiction? "One of the things they're actually working on is a vaccine for addiction, which is an incredibly exciting prospect," said Dr. Tom Price, secretary of Health and Human Services. (Harris, 8/10)

Kaiser Health News: A Long And Winding Road: Kicking Heroin In An Opioid ‘Treatment Desert’
Heather Menzel squirmed in her seat, unable to sleep on the Greyhound bus as it rolled through the early morning darkness toward Bakersfield, in California’s Central Valley. She’d been trapped in transit for three miserable days, stewing in a horrific sickness only a heroin addict can understand. Again, and again, she stumbled down the aisle to the bathroom to vomit. She hadn’t used since Chicago. She told herself that if she could just get through this self-prescribed detox, if she could get to her mother’s house in her hometown of Lake Isabella, Calif., all her problems would be solved. (Rinker, 8/11)

NPR: Insurance Scams Plague 'Sober Home' Recovery Industry In South Florida
Delray Beach's charming downtown, palm trees and waves attract locals, vacationers and, increasingly, drug users who come here to try to get off opioids. In some parts of the small Florida community, there's a residential program for people recovering from addiction — a sober living house or "sober home" — on nearly every block. Sometimes two or three. On a block where resident Michelle Siegel was walking a dog recently, there are at least six sober homes. She says "you can usually tell" by the white vans and "no trespassing" signs out front. (Allen, 8/10)

San Francisco Chronicle: Strong Support For Safe Injection Centers In SF
On Thursday, the S.F. Safe Injection Services Task Force, created to explore the options and obstacles surrounding a safe injection site, met for the final time before the Department of Public Health, which oversaw the group, presents recommendations to the Board of Supervisors next month. While questions remain on where a site might be located and how it would be run, remarks from many of the task force members, including health department Director Barbara Garcia, suggested there was strong support for moving ahead. (Fracassa, 8/10)

The Philadelphia Inquirer/Philly.com: Third Of Philadelphians Used Prescription Opioids In The Last Year, Survey Finds
The findings of the survey indicate that a projected 168,000 city residents age 18 and older are using prescription opioids, putting them at higher risk of developing an addiction. That figure is “shockingly high,” Farley said. “Doctors have given out way too many opioids.” More than 900 city residents died last year from drug overdoses, most from heroin, fentanyl, and other opioids, a toll that is projected to exceed 1,200 this year. (Sapatkin, 8/10)

Boston Globe: Fatal Opioid Overdoses Have Declined In Parts Of Eastern Massachusetts
Fatal opioid overdoses have declined in parts of Eastern Massachusetts this year, health and law enforcement officials said, offering a glimmer of hope that preventative measures are helping to save lives in the ongoing epidemic. The reported drop-off this year comes after alarming increases in fatal overdoses in recent years around the United States, including a 16 percent jump in 2016 in Massachusetts, fueled by the widespread availability of fentanyl. (Edmondson, 8/11)

New Hampshire Union Leader: Granite Recovery Center Moving To Salem 
The administrative team for a full spectrum drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility will soon be setting up shop in town. Over the next two weeks, a team from Granite Recovery Center will move into the 6 Manor Parkway space. The 30,000-square-foot building previously housed Stantec, Inc. before the company moved to Auburn. (Proulx, 8/10)

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