Indiana Governor: "we cannot arrest our way out of this drug problem"

SCOTT COUNTY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- Opioid addiction has become an epidemic across the United States and Indiana's governor says he wants to put a stop to it in the Hoosier state.

Governor Eric Holcomb announced an expansion of treatment plans Wednesday. The expansion includes five opioid treatment centers in Vigo, Allen, Johnson, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties. Along with the new locations, there's policy change in healthcare that will take effect August 1.

Indiana Medicaid and Healthy Indiana Plan members will now have free coverage for all services provided in an opioid treatment center, including methadone treatment.

Governor Holcomb says the new programs are extremely important and "meet the need where it's most urgent."

The Governor says 80 percent of heroin users started with painkillers.

Scott County Indiana was once in a state of emergency for its drug problem so this news of more resources coming to the state is very well received.

Scott County Health Officials say the more help for addiction services, the better.

“It’s completely amazing, it's something we have needed for a very long time, the majority of our clients that run through the needle exchange are on Medicaid, or they don't have any insurance at all but are eligible for Medicaid. So we can get them mon Medicaid and we can get them the help that they need,” says Brittany Combs, the public health nurse for the Scott County Health Department.

She says she is ecstatic to hear about the changes to state insurance.

“We don't want to just throw medicine at someone and say good luck with your treatment. They have to have the comprehensive, they have to be held accountable, they have to work through their addiction issues too,” Combs said.

In the past, only the narcotics suboxone and Vivitrol were covered by Medicaid.

The governor says all opioid treatment centers in the state must participate in the Medicaid program.

There was praise from Holcomb on the success of first responders and the public using Narcan to reverse the effects of overdoses.

Combs tells us, “The opioid that our people preferred are the opana which is a prescription medication but that has dwindled so a lot more people are going to the heroin so we are seeing a lot more overdoses with that so we have to have that Narcan available."  

Combs says addiction knows no bounds, but with an increased focus on this nationwide drug epidemic, help will continue to be available.

© 2017 WHAS-TV


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