Executive Order in Ohio Focuses on Addiction Treatment

by | Jun 21, 2016 | Treatment | 0 comments

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An executive order may look to us like just a pile of papers, but they can actually be quite important. (Nirat.pix/Shutterstock)

An executive order may look to us like just a pile of papers, but they can actually be quite important. (Nirat.pix/Shutterstock)

A while back, we wrote an article on the benefits of small treatment facilities. We primarily focused on private facilities, as state-run facilities often lack the funding needed in order to truly operate at their best capability. This could be changed, however, if more funding were given to such treatment facilities. Even if low-income families were given the means to send addicts to private facilities, we would make great waves toward fighting the addiction problem in this country. Now, a new executive order signed by Governor John Kasich might help to enact such change in Ohio.

We understand that some might have certain viewpoints concerning Kasich. He has participated in a presidential election that has become highly controversial, so this is to be expected. As such, we must make a caveat that this article is not meant to say anything about Kasich himself, nor about the state of Ohio. We are merely focusing on his executive order and what it could mean for those who need treatment yet suffer from debilitating financial issues. Addiction, like so many diseases, does not care how much money you make. As such, an executive order such as this could have a great effect on addicts and alcoholics residing within the governor’s jurisdiction.

There were actually two executive orders issues by Kasich. The first focused on after-school programs, prisoner reform, and underweight childbirth. It even made it possible for the children of low-income families to more easily acquire clothes for the winter. This is not the executive order on which we wish to focus. It was instead accompanied by another executive order, which expanded Medicaid coverage to include licensed and independent addiction counselors. As for how this could benefit treatment programs, we will expand on this below.

Details on the Executive Order

Ohio’s new executive order largely benefits those without extensive financial means. (Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock)

Ohio’s new executive order largely benefits those without extensive financial means. (Dmitry Kalinovsky/Shutterstock)

Prior to the executive order, there were approximately 100 agencies in Ohio that provided chemical dependency counseling that were not covered by Medicaid. Starting on July 1, 2016, this is going to change. At least, that’s the date on which they will change officially. Thanks to Kasich’s decision to utilize a special 120-day emergency executive order, these agencies can begin offering these services under Medicaid before the order has technically gone into effect. With less than two weeks until July, this may sound like a marginal difference. But those who suffer from crippling addiction are all too aware that even one day can make a difference.

Think of it this way—Prince was hardly lacking in financial means. Yet it was the difference of a single day between his decision to search for help and the arrival of said help that allowed him to overdose. Those who lack the means to send their loved ones to treatment are in even greater danger. It might be weeks or even months before they can afford the cost of treatment. Medicaid helps, but this leads to another problem. What if the individuals in these states are unable to trust the treatment programs allowed by their coverage? By expanding coverage, Ohio has minimized this problem.

We actually should focus on the first executive order for a minute, because it is not without its benefits to addicts and alcoholics. While our article on addiction demographics and statistics demonstrates growing rates among all classes, it cannot be ignored that many among the lower classes suffer from this disease. By providing after-school enrichment programs, Ohio may be ensuring that fewer addicts are created. Their new prisoner re-entry program may also provide opportunities for those who wish to reform. Rather than returning to a criminal lifestyle rife with drugs and alcohol, they can find a new sense of purpose. If this keeps even one person sober after their release, it is to be celebrated.

Each executive order signed by Kasich has the potential to affect the recovery community, whether by allowing more people to seek recovery or by lowering the number of people who need it in the first place. These are changes which are greatly needed. Too many people cannot afford treatment, and this is a fact which needs to change. We must therefore assess the possible benefits of the executive order signed by Kasich, as well as the benefits that might be experienced by Florida treatment facilities if our state were to embrace such a change in policy.

Possible Benefits of the Order

One major benefit is that many addicts and alcoholics may experience a new sense of relief that was formally cut off to them. (pathdoc/Shutterstock)

One major benefit is that many addicts and alcoholics may experience a new sense of relief that was formally cut off to them. (pathdoc/Shutterstock)

As we noted above, it may not seem at first like this order benefits those who run treatment facilities. After all, the executive order only technically applies to independent counselors. But there are many treatment facilities that act independently, and may occasionally turn to licensed therapists for help. Some of these licensed therapists may only provide their services to those seeking intervention. Many of these same therapists only provide to those who wish to eventually seek treatment. Either way, the needs of the addict must be taken into account.

Without intervention specialists and other such licensed individuals, it would be far more difficult for treatment centers to spread the word about their effectiveness and diligence regarding the care of addicts and alcoholics. If an executive order is able to make them more accessible to the public, then this is good for all. More knowledge regarding these specialists could easily result in more knowledge about the benefits of treatment. This could mean fewer people succumbing to withdrawal death or overdose death. This could mean fewer people avoiding treatment in general. The overall results are potentially great for the recovery community and the addicts they serve.

The potential benefits of this sort of executive order are profound. Perhaps this particular order may only be beneficial to those who choose to use one out of one hundred counselors. But if this helps to set a precedent for future laws in its image, then it could have the potential to absolutely revolutionize the recovery industry. No longer would those of low income have to worry about whether or not they could send their loved ones to treatment. No longer would they be held back by limited insurance programs. Orders like this could be precisely what we need in order to combat the growing epidemic of drug abuse in America.

Again, some might be hesitant to see this. Some might worry that this is simply a move made by a politician to increase his favor. And for all we know, that’s precisely what this is. The motivation is not the issue at hand, nor is anyone’s perception of the politician who pushed the order forward. The only thing which matters is that this order has the potential to do some good. And in the case of Ohio, that is precisely what is happening.

Could Florida Be Next?

Can Florida be the next state to see these types of major changes? (Victor Maschek/Shutterstock)

Can Florida be the next state to see these types of major changes? (Victor Maschek/Shutterstock)

Now that we have looked at the potential benefits of each executive order, we must ask what comes next. Ohio is far from the only state in which people are struggling to pay for addiction treatment. Florida has become overrun with scam artists and questionable treatment centers. The more these people tighten their grip on the recovery community, the more people doubt the benefits of addiction treatment itself. We must fight against this, or else we may find that faith in treatment is altogether lost.

Some may say that an executive order is not the best way to accomplish something. Whether or not this is true, there must be more of a push to embrace policies like those discussed above. When treatment becomes more attainable to the average American, the result will be less doubt as to its efficacy. This is not a matter to be taken lightly. If we can achieve affordable care for all addicts and alcoholics, we can improve the industry as a whole. The means by which we do this are irrelevant as long as we do it.

Florida would greatly benefit from laws that accomplish two goals. The first is to curtail the number of treatment centers offering half-hearted services for the sole sake of making a profit. The second is to make it easier for low-income individuals to receive the care they need. We work with our patients to get the most out of their insurance programs, but there is only so much we can do. With the help of our state government, we might be able to offer our services to even more people than are receiving them today. Some may see this as a lofty goal, but we see it as a necessity if we wish to combat the addiction epidemic.

If you care about recovery, we encourage you to speak out. Tell your local representatives that those who need treatment must not be ignored. In the meantime, contact us to learn more about our programs and what we have to offer. If we react to addiction as a community, we can accomplish great things. But without this sense of community, we will accomplish very little. Ohio heard the words of their citizens. Can Florida do the same? We believe that they can.

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