COLUMBUS – Today, Senator Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) announced a bill to address the immediate and long-term needs created by Ohio’s opioid crisis. This legislation - Senate Bill 154 - goes above and beyond what has been proposed by Governor Kasich and Ohio House Republicans. Senator Schiavoni was joined by Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights), who is a joint sponsor of the bill, and by a drug dependency counselor.

“This bill would allow us to start addressing the opioid crisis immediately and send resources where they’d be most useful,” said Senator Schiavoni. “Every community is struggling to get a handle on this epidemic, but Columbus’ needs may be different than East Liverpool’s. With this infusion of dollars, local communities will have the flexibility to use these funds where they believe they will have the most impact.”

This bill would direct $200 million from the $2 billion Rainy Day Fund to provide targeted assistance for addiction treatment and prevention efforts. Using just 10% of the Rainy Day Fund leaves more than $1.8 billion to address future needs.

“The opiate epidemic shows no signs of letting up. Today alone, it will claim the lives of close to eight Ohioans,” said Senator Yuko. “Under the Republicans’ current plan, this crisis will claim many more lives before any real results are seen. Our bill supplies the state with the funds to effectively address the opiate epidemic as it tears through our communities now. It also gives us the knowledge we so desperately need to properly appropriate funds and achieve the most impactful outcomes long-term for the citizens of Ohio.”

In Ohio, one person dies every four hours from an accidental drug overdose. In fact, Ohio leads the nation in opioid overdose deaths. This bill would contain an emergency clause, meaning all provisions except those relating to insurance would go into effect immediately after enactment. 

“We as a society, as a people, are facing an enemy like none other. One that transcends generations, ethnicity and even economic status,” said Ruth Bowdish, Chemical Dependency Counselor with On Demand Drug Testing. “This opioid crisis is taking lives every day. It is only through understanding, care, education and treatment that we stand a chance against this adversary.”

Highlights of the bill include: 

Local Government Funding – $100M

  • $100M from the Rainy Day Fund to the Local Government Fund. This funding would be earmarked for Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services (ADAMHS) boards; law enforcement; Child Protective Services; kinship care; first responders; and establishing/expanding drug courts.

Treatment Infrastructure - $100M

  • $10M from the Rainy Day Fund for data collection. Each county would be required to submit data to help the state understand the scope of Ohio’s opioid crisis and allocate resources in the most effective manner.
  • $90M from the Rainy Day Fund to increase treatment capacity (beds/facilities). The Department will prioritize programs that are currently in operation, that are scalable statewide, and have a transportation component.

Insurance Regulation

  • Insurers must cover Medication Assisted Treatment – including Suboxone and Vivitrol. The bill also helps Ohioans avoid premium increases due to new treatment requirements.

Statewide Treatment Availability Registry

  • Require MHAS to create an online portal that shows a county breakdown of the number of available beds at detox and treatment facilities. This information would be updated on a real time basis.

Education Prevention - $2M each Fiscal Year

  • Use funds from the General Revenue Fund (GRF) to create the Opioid Prevention grant program under the Ohio Department of Education. This would support school-based prevention education initiatives.

Drug Take Back Programs

  • Prescription drug take back at commercial pharmacies

A video of today's press conference can be found here.

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