Behavioral health and addiction treatment experts in Ohio are facing several issues that could impact their organizations. Here we highlight some of the latest behavioral health news from the Buckeye State.
Drug Overdose Deaths Increasing in Ohio
One year after seeing a decline in drug overdose deaths, Ohio is reporting a 5-percent increase for 2019. Fatal drug overdoses had declined 22 percent in 2018. Early state and local data indicate that the rate will continue to climb for 2020, driven primarily by anxieties, isolation, and disruptions surrounding the coronavirus and the state’s stay-at-home orders.
County coroners have reported 3,957 accidental drug deaths in 2019, up from 3,764 deaths in 2018, according to data collected by the Ohio Department of Health. Data from the CDC, however, are calculated differently from state data, and show that Ohio’s increase in overdose fatalities is 6.9 percent, ranking 25th in the nation for 2019.
Ohio Senate Passes Bill to Reform Drug Sentencing
The Ohio House of Representatives has introduced a bill, already passed in the Senate, that would reclassify low-level drug possession charges as misdemeanors instead of felonies. Senate Bill 3 also would encourage judges to send offenders to treatment rather than jail. This could help reduce overcrowding in Ohio correctional facilities and potentially reduce the chances of recidivism.
Senate Bill 3 also allows misdemeanor, fourth-degree, and fifth-degree felony drug possession charges to be sealed upon the successful completion of drug court or intervention. However, under the bill, a judge could still sentence low-level offenders to jail for up to one year if needed. The reclassification excludes fentanyl and sexual assault-enabling drugs.
Executive Order Expands Ohio Telehealth Services
Earlier this month, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine issued an executive order (EO) that authorizes new and amended emergency rules for telehealth services in the state. Under this EO, the Ohio Department of Medicaid and the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services can adopt amended versions of OAC 5160-1-18 and OAC 5122-29-31, respectively.
The amended rules provide expanded access to behavioral health services via telehealth. However, it is still required that a practitioner have a physical location in Ohio or have access to an Ohio location where individuals may opt to receive the services being offered through telehealth. Get details here.
Ohio Organizations Receive Grants to Address COVID-Related Issues
UnitedHealthcare is awarding nearly $600,000 in Empowering Health grants to seven community-based organizations. These grants will support programs to help Ohio residents struggling with challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including behavioral health issues.
Some support will go to the Ohio Children’s Alliance, which is helping to equip nonprofit behavioral health providers to deliver behavioral telehealth services. Another grant will go to the Ohio Suicide Prevention Foundation for mental-health training, and another to the Better Health Partnership to improve mental and behavioral health screenings for children.
Will these headlines affect your behavioral health or addiction treatment practice in Ohio? The right software solutions can help you navigate any changes you face. BestNotes EHR solutions were designed with behavioral health in mind, to help you fulfill state requirements, stay profitable, and improve your client outcomes. Contact us to learn more.