As Kentucky continues to battle the scourge of opioids, House Health and Family Services Committee Chair Kim Moser says the state must continue to look to treatment and changing attitudes in order to get to the root of the issue.
Moser, a registered nurse and the former director of the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, noted it took many years for the country and the state to get into the issue and it will take a long time to fully recover.
Fewer overdose deaths have been seen in recent years which Moser attributed in large part to the increased distribution of the life-saving drug Narcan. She noted there is still a need for more resources and treatment programs across the state to ensure additional progress.
Changes in prescribing practices have also helped on the opioid issue, as it is no longer seen as necessary to prescribe addictive pain medication for dental procedures or other smaller medical treatments, along with the three-day prescribing limit for certain medications passed by the legislature in 2015.
Also passed in 2015 was an anti-heroin bill which sought to punish those dealing heroin and cut down on the spread of diseases as a result of needle use. Moser said Kentucky has one of, if not the highest, number of needle exchange programs in the country feels they have been very positive to reduce the spread of such illnesses like Hepatitis C, as well as help get people into treatment.
“I think what we didn’t realize was how utilized these clinics were going to be for getting people tested for Hepatitis A, Hepatitis C, HIV, pregnancy, addressing those issues early and either getting people into treatment for their existing disease or getting moms into prenatal care and early treatment for their substance use disorders,” Moser said. “So, I think it has been a very positive thing for Kentucky.”
Along with the struggles resulting from the opioid epidemic, Kentucky is also facing a doctor shortage. Moser discussed recent news of the University of Kentucky opening a medical school in her region to train doctors as well as advancements in tele-health and how that can help the state address health issues, especially in more rural parts of the state (discussion starting at 8:00 in the video).
Watch the full interview with Rep. Kim Moser on how Kentucky is addressing the opioid epidemic and other health issues here: