Butler County opiate business Strategy gets cash infusion


Butler County’s $3.6 million Opiate Business Plan will soon be getting the next infusion of money, lessening the amount of citizen levy funds that will be required to fight the opiate epidemic.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser recently decided that mental health levy dollars may be employed to encourage addiction services, reversing a former opinion that would’ve negated using these funds for opioid-related attempts.

He said addictions are a type of emotional illness and therefore qualify for a number of those levy funds, which total about $10 million.

“When we haven’t heard anything from the opioid emergency over the past several decades, we’ve at least heard that it is 1 hell of a psychological issue for the people who are suffering with that dependence,” Gmoser said. “Consequently at a report on this law and the terminology of this law I felt that it was right to interpret it the way I’ve.”

In the throes of this emergency, the Butler County Mental Health and Addiction Recovery Services Board invented a strategy to fight the problem. The cost in April 2016 was estimated at $3.6 million annually, but the one funding source was $660,000 in national 21st Century Cure funds.

MHARS Executive Director Scott Rasmus said that since then — using a enormous overhaul of the behavioral health program in the works — the organization is presently projecting Medicaid dollars will pay approximately $525,600 for detox services, $350,000 for post-treatment recovery services and $60,000 for medication assisted treatment.

Together with the infusion of , the MHARS board is gradually ramping up the plan, spending about $500,000 between today and July, an extra $1.25 million to financial year 2018-2019 and $2 million the year after.

Julie Payton, senior director of alcohol and drug dependency services, said the board will soon be expanding detox services from approximately 30 to about 50 to 60 individuals who need detox, using brand new contracts using Lumiere Healing Center along with Beckett Springs at West Chester Twp.

Retrieval home is another part to the healing procedure that is complete. Presently in the county, there are 28 units, operated by the board’s provider Sojourner Recovery Services, and also at least one private facility for men. Sojourner CEO Scott Gehring said the team is currently in the process of buying a flat building that can house 14 to 16 individuals.

Gehring said in a ideal world his service can probably use about 100 components, just for the people they deal with, but there are also many recovering addicts who find each other during treatment and decide to co-habitat to maintain each other blank.

“Retrieval home is a very wonderful asset because most of the people that are coming to us are coming back without a safe, sober living environment,” Gehring said. “If you take somebody out of that living environment and place them in treatment and they get sober and they’re doing very well, then flip them back into that sterile, unsafe environment really just lessens their chances of long-term achievement.”

Special attention, about $200,000, has been given to another treatment pod at the county prison which can serve 36 women at a moment. Rasmus reported the remedy they provide to men at the prison has a success rate, 74% of 466 offenders served last year not being detained again.

There are many more initiatives in the business program that’ll be stepped up using all the newfound money. Even revolutionary things such as a possible pilot program analyzing the efficacy of a new devise phone the Bridge, a tiny electrical nerve stimulator put behind the patient’s ear, that reduces opiate withdrawal symptoms.

The money will help move the opiate program ahead, but Rasmus and Payton warned there are forces beyond the county’s management that may have a negative impact. The 21st Century Heal cash runs out in April, and unless the national government expands that avenue, the MHARS board will have to plug that660,000 gap.

Eric R. Wandersleben, director of media relations for the Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, the agency that disbursed the $26 million throughout the nation, said future funding is unclear.

“We’re in the process of filing an application for continuation funds today and continue to hold talks around the potential amount and use of said capital,” Wandersleben told the Journal-News. “I hesitate to presume.”

The potential of Medicaid growth is also in limbo now both at the national and state levels. The growth, championed by Gov. John Kasich, opened up Medicaid policy to a larger people in 2014. Payton stated the potential disappearance of Medicaid expansion could be catastrophic.

“If Medicaid growth goes off, we’re likely to be hurting,” she said. “This is a very considerable risk for the addicted people and for services for addicted folks if Medicaid growth is altered, reduced or eliminated.”

Rasmus said the elimination is a very real potential, they simply don’t know for certain if and when it may occur. He said it could not come at a worse moment.

“Clearly with an opiate epidemic in this state and obviously Medicaid expansion supporting the prevention and treatment aspects to decrease the impact of that epidemic, hopefully it’ll be challenging for legislators to encourage repealing that,” Rasmus said.

Butler County Overdose Deaths

* There are still some outstanding cases pending tox success.

Source: Butler County Coroner’s Office

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