Ohio Attorney General creates task force of health insurers to explore opioid crisis solutions

Attorney General Mike DeWine is creating a task force of health insurers to find way to solve the addiction crisis

By Randy Ludlow
The Columbus Dispatch

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is convening a task force of health insurers in a bid to identify ways to help resolve Ohio's opioid addiction crisis.

Representatives from eight health insurance companies that cover a large majority of Ohioans will serve on the task force, which will meet for the first time Wednesday.

"The financial burden of the opioid epidemic has costs which are paid by health insurance subscribers and taxpayers alike," DeWine said in a statement on Tuesday. "Because fighting this problem requires a multifaceted approach, insurers are important partners in addressing the opioid epidemic."

Ohio, which suffered a 33-percent increase in drug overdose deaths last year to a total of 4,050, spends nearly $1 billion a year on the opioid crisis, with 70 percent of that figure spent on drug addition and mental health services for Medicaid patients.

Claims submitted to private insurers for opioid-addiction treatment increased 770 percent between 2007 and 2014, one report found.

The task force will look at expanding coverage options to reduce reliance on painkillers, removing barriers to obtaining addiction-weaning drugs and taking other steps to help reduce the use of prescribed opioids, DeWine's office said.

Insurers participating in the effort are Aetna, Anthem, Buckeye Health Plan, CareSource, Medical Mutual, Molina Paramount and United Healthcare.

Copyright 2017 The Columbus Dispatch

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