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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Gibbs and Portman Hear the Case for Medicaid in Fighting Ohio's Opioid Crisis

Gibbs Portman at table

Gibbs Portman at table

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman and Congressman Bob Gibbs toured a residential center in Massillon today that treats people addicted to opioids. They also heard arguments that the Medicaid expansion that many fellow Republicans oppose is crucial to such efforts. 

The tour was of two 100-year-old buildings on what used to be the grounds of Massillon State psychiatric hospital. They’ve been renovated and turned over to CommQuest services to provide detox, medication maintenance and residential treatment.

CommQuest and other local officials -- and a recovering addict – told Portman and Gibbs that the Medicaid expansion provides for that treatment, freeing up some local money for job training, housing, psychiatric and other services that make the difference between recovery and relapse.

Portman says the argument is a valid one.

“If we don’t do that, people will be clogging our jails and our emergency room and all of us will pay more in terms of the cost of those institutions, which are not equipped to handle it, and the cost of crime.”

Portman opposed the House plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act because of concerns about the loss of Medicaid. Gibbs supported the plan. He says state block grants and federal waivers promoted by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price could be more effective.

Gibbs on waivers

“States, if you’ve got programs, if you’ve got initiatives, come talk to us and we’ll do waivers. We’ll do waivers at the federal level so that you can administer these programs and new initiatives and innovations.”

M.L. Schultze came to WKSU as news director in July 2007 after 25 years at The Repository in Canton, where she was managing editor for nearly a decade. She’s now the digital editor and an award-winning reporter and analyst who has appeared on NPR, Here and Now and the TakeAway, as well as being a regular panelist on Ideas, the WVIZ public television's reporter roundtable.