Source: | January 8th, 2018
About half of opioid overdose deaths occur among men and women ages 25 to 44. It’s reasonable to assume that many are parents. Statistics can’t tally the trauma felt by a seven-year-old who calls 911 to get help for an unconscious parent, or the responsibility undertaken by a twelve-year-old to feed and diaper a toddler sibling, or the impact of school absences and poor grades on a formerly successful high school student. Parental overdoses have an immediate impact on children, but there is also a cumulative impact as these children become adults and are themselves at risk from the same influences that drove their parents to drugs, overdoses, and early deaths. Who are these children and adolescents?
- Newborns whose mothers are addicted to opioids. These babies may undergo withdrawal themselves and need special treatment.
- Children of all ages at risk for accidental ingestion or inhalation of toxic substances.
- Children living with an addicted parent, dealing with constant uncertainty and fear.
- Children who have taken over the role of family caregiver for younger siblings or for their addicted parents.
- Children who are removed from their homes and placed in foster or kinship care. Some of these children have unmet mental health care needs.
- Very young children exposed to toxic levels of stress that impair brain development.
No one knows how many of these vulnerable children there are in the U.S. because no one is counting. They remain hidden in families with addiction until a crisis erupts and law enforcement or child welfare agencies get involved. When relatives are unable to take in these children, foster care is the next option. In 2016, about 274,000 children entered the foster care system, 22,000 more than in 2012. One-third of those youngsters were removed from their homes because at least one parent had a drug abuse issue. Integrating child-centered policies into prevention and treatment programs is essential. We need targeted research that draws from the fields of addiction treatment, child development, family therapy, mental health, child welfare, law enforcement, and others to determine the best evidence-based solutions.
Source: | December 5th, 2017
The Affordable Care Act contained several provisions that significantly increased access to SUD services. While earlier efforts by Congress to repeal Obamacare failed, there are several efforts underway to dismantle the program. Below is a current summary of what is at stake:
- Senate tax reform proposal proposes to double the standard deduction, likely shifting millions of taxpayers who currently itemize to taking the standard deduction. An analysis of this provision estimates that charities could see a staggering loss of up to $13.1 billion in contributions annually, directly impacting non-profit SUD service providers.
- Proposed reductions in the Senate tax reform bill to the income threshold after which medical expenses can be deducted would impact the financial futures of millions of Americans living with costly and chronic conditions like mental illness or addiction.
- The Senate tax reform bill proposes to eliminate the individual insurance mandate. This provision is foundational to the Affordable Care Act because it spreads the risk thereby lowering health insurance premiums. It also funds comprehensive coverage in insurance plans to include necessary services like mental health and addiction treatment.
- President Trump has directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to change the rules on how the Essential Health Benefits (EHB) for marketplace insurance plans are administered. The proposed changes would allow states to choose less comprehensive coverage for mental health and substance use service.
Source: | November 13th, 2017
The nation’s largest insurers issued a statement last week that addiction deserves the same urgency and respect as cancer or diabetes, and should be treated as a chronic disease requiring long-term treatment and monitoring. 16 health insurers covering 248 million people adopted 8 principles of care and said they would use their purchasing power to reward proven, evidence-based treatments, a step that could improve the quality of care available. UnitedHealth Group, Aetna, Cigna and WellCare, all national companies were among the endorsing companies. The eight core principles the insurers supported were derived from the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2016 report on alcohol, drugs and health. These core principles are also providing the foundation for the work being done by Shatterproof’s Substance Use Disorder Treatment Task Force to create a universal standard of care for addiction.
- Routine screenings in every medical setting: During check-ups and in the ER, from pediatric to geriatric care-screenings for an SUD should be as common as measuring blood pressure.
- A personal plan for every patient: One size doesn’t fit all. Treatment must consider unique social, mental, biological, and environmental needs-with frequent check-ins and adjustments.
- Fast access to treatment: Addiction alters brain chemistry. So when an individual is able to seek treatment, that moment must be seized.
- Disease management, rather than 28 days: While inpatient treatment may be appropriate for some based on disease severity, this isn’t the best option for all. And it’s not enough for sustained success. Long-term outpatient care is key to recovery.
- Coordinated care for every illness: Many people with addiction also suffer from other mental or physical disorders. Treatment for all illnesses should be coordinated and integrated into the SUD treatment plan.
- Behavioral health care from legitimate providers: Behavioral interventions help individuals manage their disease and sustain recovery – and should be offered by properly trained, accredited, and well-supervised providers.
- Medication-assisted treatment: Just like with any other chronic disease, medication is appropriate for treating some addictions. It should be destigmatized and easily accessible.
- Support for recovery outside the doctor’s office: Recovery requires emotional and practical support from family members, the community, and peer groups.
Source: | October 27th, 2017
Speaker Straus created a Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse which was included in his Interim Committee Charges. This Select committee will study the prevalence and impact of substance abuse and substance use disorders in the state. “Two years ago, we formed the Committee on Mental Health to look at behavioral health and substance abuse issues, and this new committee will continue some of that work,” Speaker Straus said. Rep. Four Price (Amarillo) has been tapped by the Speaker to chair and Rep. Joe Moody (El Paso) will serve as Vice Chairman. “Addressing the growing problems of substance abuse and opioid addictions would have a positive impact across the state by reducing the burden on the health care and criminal justice systems, Price said. “It’s an issue that Texans everywhere are dealing with”. ASAP worked well with Chairman Price and his office over the past biennium on the Behavioral Health Select Committee and legislation that was introduced from the committee’s findings. For his outstanding leadership directing that committee and passing significant legislation, particularly HB 10 to enforce parity, ASAP was honored to select him as a 2017 Lone Star Award recipient. We are excited to work with him again and look forward to similar positive results from the committee’s work. he committee members are:
Carol Avarado (Houston)
Garnet Coleman (Houston)
Jay Dean (Longview)
Ina Minjarez (San Antonio)
Andy Murr (Junction)
Poncho Nevarez (Eagle Pass)
Kevin Roberts (Houston)
Toni Rose (Dallas)
J.D. Sheffield (Gatesville)
Gary VanDeaver (New Boston)
James White (Hillister)