Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, whose two sons are recovering opiate addicts, wants Ohio to issue a 10-year, $1-billion bond to pay for drug treatment services and innovations, hire more narcotics cops and continue to tighten up prescribing rules for powerful painkillers.
“For me, this is personal. I have known the sorrow that drug addiction causes,” Taylor said in prepared remarks for a scheduled speech at the Life Enrichment Center in Dayton on Thursday. “I have lived the nightmare that you read about.”
In her remarks, Taylor details “the story every parent dreads the most in their heart” — getting a frantic phone call, rushing home, finding emergency lights flashing and an officer at the door saying “your oldest son is one of the lucky ones. He is going to live. Saved by the timely intervention of your younger son, four shots of Narcan and the grace of God.”
Taylor, one of four Republicans running for governor in 2018, is backing a plan to:
• Reform prescribing guidelines and emphasize non-opioid alternatives to treating pain;
• Issue a 10-year, $1-billion bond to pay for treatment services and work with the Trump administration to gain flexibility in how Ohio uses its Medicaid funds;
• Hire more narcotics officers, pay for better data collection and stop drug imports at the borders;
• Use her own personal story to knock down the stigma attached to drug addiction.
Unintentional drug overdoses killed nearly 60,000 Americans, including more than 4,000 in Ohio, last year. “Most of those deaths were caused by opiates. This is a crisis for the entire nation — and Ohio is the epicenter,” Taylor says in her remarks. “It is the most challenging and dangerous social problem we face.”
The Kasich administration strongly supported expanding Medicaid for 725,000 low-income Ohioans, one-third of whom have drug abuse issues. Experts say Medicaid is the largest payer of addiction treatment services in many states and its expansion has given millions of adults with drug problems access to treatment.
Taylor opposes the expansion of Medicaid, which was made possible by Obamacare, arguing that it’s not sustainable.
Taylor is running in the GOP primary against Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine of Cedarville, Secretary of State Jon Husted of Upper Arlington and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci of Wadsworth.
On the Democrat side, candidates include Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, former state representative Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, former Congresswoman Betty Sutton of Akron and Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill.
In May, DeWine announced Ohio was filing a lawsuit against drug manufacturers whose aggressive marketing of painkillers contributed to the drug addiction crisis.
Dayton also filed suit against drug makers and Whaley proposed a nickel-per-pill fee on prescribed opiates to help fund the fight against the addiction crisis.