State leaders making efforts to help Kentucky fight opioid crisis

Recommendation #1: Create a robust statewide diversion program that links patients with quality treatment

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear said a bipartisan group of state leaders are making progress on recommendations from Pew Charitable Trusts on how best to address the opioid crisis and help save lives.

Last year, the Governor and his administration as well as the General Assembly participated in Pew’s study and now they are working together to support new laws and programs that address the recommendations by eliminating barriers to addiction and expanding access to treatment.

“The opioid epidemic is not a red or blue issue, it continues to shatter families regardless of their political party – and that is why it takes all of us working together to fight back,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are working to help Kentuckians and communities in need. We remain committed to fighting this fight together.”

“Pew’s recommendations range from ensuring that pregnant and parenting people receive high-quality care to increasing access to medications—the most effective therapy for opioid use disorder, and one that’s proven to help reduce overdose deaths,” said Alaina McBournie, a manager with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ substance use prevention and treatment initiative. “Together, these policies can help Kentucky transform its treatment system and save lives.” 

“Kentucky has hit the ground running since partnering with Pew and we have already accomplished many of their recommendations to save Kentuckians from the horrible disease of addiction,” said Office of Drug Control Policy Executive Director Van Ingram. “There is still more work to be done, but it is reassuring to know that we are on a solid path toward helping more individuals stay on a successful recovery journey and preventing more overdose deaths.”

Recommendation #1: Create a robust statewide diversion program that links patients with quality treatment

Senate Bill 90 filed this legislative session in response to the Pew workgroup and with input from a variety of Kentucky’s key stakeholders is focused on helping Kentuckians who are fighting an addiction receive treatment before incarceration on a qualifying criminal offense. SB 90 aims to provide eligible individuals an alternative to receive treatment for a behavioral health disorder instead of incarceration.

“This is a significant step to provide a path to recovery for those who have fallen victim to drug companies’ manipulations and street thugs capitalizing on some of the most vulnerable,” said Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester. “Pew has drawn the conclusion I knew all along, that those suffering from addiction can become contributing members of our society once again.”

Recommendation #2: Eliminate barriers to medications for opioid use disorders in community-based treatment

The Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE), Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental, and Intellectual Disabilities and the Department for Medicaid Services within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services were among the agencies participating in stakeholder discussions with Pew and have worked to enhance policies and services to address Kentucky’s drug epidemic along the continuum.

The department focused on behavior health worked to implement Pew’s recommendations by using federal dollars to expand mobile crisis services and community opioid response. A new funding opportunity to support the expansion of recovery-ready housing is open now and the department is expected to award up to six grants to support eligible agencies.

“The cabinet is committed to building a high-quality recovery-oriented system of care and we are grateful to the Pew team for partnering with us to further innovate our opioid response efforts,” said Cabinet for Health and Family Services Secretary Eric Friedlander. “Nearly every Kentucky family has been impacted by the opioid epidemic in some way. Yet, not every Kentuckian has the same access to care and services when and where they need them. Enhancing our policies and expanding evidence-based practices as outlined by Pew will help us to ensure more individuals have access to life-saving services.”

Recommendation #3: Expand access to treatment for pregnant and parenting people and individuals in rural areas

House Bill 174, which has passed through the House and is now awaiting Senate approval, will amend state law to extend Medicaid eligibility for certain new mothers for up to 12 months postpartum.

“The Pew Institute further confirms our commitment to ensuring that those who struggle with addiction have the resources they need to get a second chance. This goal was the motivation behind passing the Recovery Ready communities initiative in 2021, and remains our mission as we consider legislation this session,” added House Speaker David Osborne, R-Oldham.

Additionally, KORE has awarded over $170 million in support of prevention, treatment and recovery services targeting priority populations, such as individuals exiting correctional settings and pregnant and parenting women.

In February 2021, the Beshear administration announced $4.6 million in grant funding to expand treatment and recovery services, including those for mothers and pregnant women with opioid addiction. Soon an additional $5.2 million in grants will be announced that will include comprehensive residential treatment services to pregnant and parenting women.

Recommendation #4: Expand access to wraparound/recovery support services

One of several steps the Governor has taken to help provide treatment to those fighting addiction was signing House Bill 7 into law last year. This ensures communities are recovery-ready by having employment and transportation services as well as recovery meetings and support groups.

The administration is working to reduce addiction and prevent re-incarceration through a statewide project that provides transportation at no charge to former inmates so they can access substance-abuse recovery facilities, medical appointments, job interviews, educational courses, probation and parole meetings and employment. The Department of Corrections is partnering with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to serve nearly 50,000 Kentuckians, currently under the supervision of probation or parole, that can utilize this project.

Recently, Gov. Beshear announced that through a federal grant the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky are administering Narcan, a brand name for the medicine naloxone, in eight counties at no cost to help reduce overdose deaths. As of today, more than 500 units have been distributed. Eight more counties will be added to the program this summer.

When Gov. Beshear served as attorney general, he filed more lawsuits than any other state attorney general and sought to hold drug companies accountable for the damage done to Kentucky communities and families. He has continued his fight as Governor by working to provide resources to fight the epidemic and by the end of 2022, the Beshear administration will have provided more than $69 million in grant funding to help recovery and fight addiction.

Treatment Resources

Call the KY Help Call Center at 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who can connect Kentuckians to treatment.

Visit findhelpnowky.org to find information about available space in treatment programs and providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.

Visit the KSP website to visit find one of KSP’s 16 posts where those suffering from addiction can be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment.

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