ADAMHS Board CEO Shocked By Kasich's Opioid Settlement Plan

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office lab
A state-of-the-art lab allows the Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner's Office determine whether opioids contributed to deaths, and in what form they were delivered. [Tony Ganzer / ideastream]
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Some working to coordinate efforts combatting the opioid crisis were shocked by an Aug. 22 announcement from former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee and former Governor John Kasich, who are forming a nonprofit to steer any money from a national opioid settlement to hospitals and health-based research.

“So that everybody can be thought about in terms of what they have contributed, what they continue to contribute, so that the resources that are going to be available are going to be used effectively,” Kasich said in a conference call announcing the non-profit, already dubbed Citizens for Effective Opioid Treatment.

“My first reaction was, we were really shocked,” said Scott Osiecki, CEO of the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAHMS) Board of Cuyahoga County.

“We were really shocked to find out about it especially because the government, the local government — which the ADAMHS Board is part of — that we have been on the front line of this epidemic and saving lives. And we have been using tax payer money for that, so we really believe that any kind of settlement that is received needs to come back to the government, needs to come back to the community to fund continued services, as well as continue to fight the epidemic,” Osiecki said.

Kasich said hospitals and first responders who are on the front line of the opioid crisis should be seeing a big chunk of a potential settlement, and Osiecki doesn’t disagree. But he said he doesn’t think focusing on hospitals includes the whole picture.

“Some people who have overdosed end up in hospital emergency rooms and they get revived, but where do they go for treatment? They come back to the community for treatment, community mental health agencies, or addiction provider agencies to receive services,” Osiecki said.

Another of John Kasich’s arguments for money going to a nonprofit like his has to do with how he saw the resolution of the tobacco settlements in the 1990s.

“A lot of that money never really went to tobacco cessation. It was used for a whole variety of issues," Kasich said. "Maybe some of them were legitimate in terms of the needs, but it was not on point."

Still, Osiecki and the ADAMHS Board still think local governments would be the best stewards of potential opioid settlement money.

“I actually do,” Osiecki said. “Because I believe this is such a huge epidemic, and everybody is really aware of this, and everybody knows this is an epidemic, that this money needs to come back to the government to go ahead and continue those services. And we’re not just talking about treatment services. We’re talking about harm reduction services, and we’re talking about prevention services.”

 

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