LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

State opioid bill would hurt local efforts

4/27/2014

The Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County is grateful for the enlightened coverage The Blade has devoted to the heroin and opiate epidemic in our region (“Prescription: Addiction”).

However, we are compelled to inform the community that passage of state House Bill 369, which you endorsed in the April 13 editorial “The politics of addiction,” would result in decreased state funding. That funding is used by our board to fund services to county residents.

In addition, HB 369 may create an undesirable prioritization among those who seek substance dependence and/‚Äčor mental health treatment services, where opiate and heroin users may receive treatment and others may have less access. Of equal concern is that passage of the bill as written would reduce local decision-making authority to determine how locally generated revenue should be spent.

In fiscal year 2013, the state of Ohio awarded an additional $47.5 million in general revenue funds to counties to provide mental health and addiction services, of which Lucas County received $2.6 million. HB 369 would take back those funds, reducing the total funds available to operate recently established programs.

The bill also would require urban counties to pay for half of the bill’s mandated recovery housing costs, while asking less-populated counties to pay only 10 percent. These elements are neither client-focused nor business-friendly.

The Ohio House of Representatives should be commended for responding to the heroin and opiate epidemic. But its response as written in HB 369 will have a disproportionate negative impact on Lucas County citizens.

AUDREY WEIS-MAAG

Chairman Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County Adams Street