(The Center Square) – People with opioid addictions in Ohio could receive treatment without leaving their homes.
A bill in the Ohio House would have the state spend $1.5 million over the next two years to fund a pilot program for remote treatment of opioid use disorder.
If signed into law, the bill would spend $750,000 in taxpayer funds in each of the next two years to develop a pilot program for remote medically assisted treatment through licensed opioid treatment programs.
“The availability of take-home doses reduces the majority of barriers that tend to cause patients to fall out of treatment,” Rep. Sharon Ray, R-Wadsworth, said during sponsor testimony. “We must continue to confront the opioid epidemic and reduce barriers that are keeping Ohioans from seeking treatment. I appreciate the careful consideration on this important issue from the committee.”
The legislation would also create standards and safeguards for patients, vendors and clinicians participating in the program.
Rep. Rachel Baker, D-Cincinnati, told the committee unintentional drug overdoses killed more than 5,000 people in Ohio in 2020.
Both Baker and Ray said the most effective treatment for opioid abuse is health care providers generally prescribing methadone or suboxone to stop the need for opioids. To receive the medication, a patient currently must report to a federally certified opioid treatment provider to often receive one dose at a time.
Staffers must observe the patients taking the medication.
“There are many barriers that can cause patients to fall out of treatment: transportation costs to clinics that are often 30 minutes to an hour away, work schedules, stigma, and child care or education obligations that conflict with strict clinic dosing hours,” the two representatives testified.
The two want the pilot program to gather data on patient outcomes and cost-effectiveness to make future decisions on remote treatment.