HPIO releases fact sheet on policy options to address overdose deaths

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released a new fact sheet, Refocusing Ohio’s Approach to Overdose Deaths.

“Drug overdose deaths are preventable and there are many ways to deter and reverse overdoses,” the fact sheet states. “Recent upward trends in overdose deaths are troubling. Without a comprehensive policy response that takes into consideration the many factors that contribute to overdose, Ohioans will continue to die, leaving behind grieving families and untapped potential.”

This fact sheet explores:

  • What drives overdose deaths
  • Why overdose deaths continue to increase
  • What Ohio can do to improve overdose prevention

This fact sheet was released in conjunction with the HPIO policy brief, Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.


Advocates push state to use more federal dollars for school-based health clinics

Ohio child advocacy groups and doctors are pushing for more state funding to add additional school-based health clinics in the state (Source: “Child advocacy groups, doctors want to see more state funding for school-based health clinics,” News 5 Cleveland, Oct. 20).

The Children’s Defense Fund-Ohio and other child advocacy groups are asking the state to allocate $25 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for the next two years to help set up clinics for additional districts in the state.

Ohio received about $5 billion from the federal government as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. So far, about $3 billion has yet to be allocated. According to the Treasury Department, funds must be incurred by Dec. 31, 2024.


Reports find health problems tied to climate change are worsening

Health problems tied to climate change are getting worse, according to two reports published Wednesday (Source: “Reports: Health problems tied to global warming on the rise,” Associated Press, Oct. 21).

The annual reports commissioned by the medical journal Lancet tracked 44 global health indicators connected to climate change, including heat deaths, infectious diseases and hunger. All of them are getting grimmer, said Lancet Countdown project research director Marina Romanello, a biochemist.

This year’s reports — one global, one just aimed at the United States — found that in the U.S., heat, fire and drought caused the biggest problems. An unprecedented Pacific Northwest and Canadian heat wave hit this summer, which a previous study showed couldn’t have happened without human-caused climate change.


Children of color more likely to die from flu, study finds

People who are Black, Hispanic or American Indian/Alaska Native are more likely than white people to be hospitalized with a case of the flu in the United States, according to a recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other institutions (Source: “The flu proves more deadly for children of color than for White youths, study says,” Washington Post, Oct. 11).

Young children in these groups, along with Asian and Pacific Islander children, are also more likely to die of flu than white children.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, took a close look at 113,352 flu hospitalizations between 2009 and 2019 from across the country. Researchers found clear disparities in those hospitalizations as well as among those who were ultimately admitted to the intensive care unit or who died.

Overall, Black people had the highest rates of hospitalization and ICU admission, followed by American Indians or Alaska Natives and Hispanic people, although the trends varied within age groups. Except in the youngest children, Asian and Pacific Islander people had hospitalization rates similar to or slightly lower than non-Hispanic white people. Across racial and ethnic groups, researchers found few differences in hospitalization, ICU admission and death from flu among adults 75 and older.


COVID transmission rate continues to decline in Ohio

Coronavirus cases are continuing to decline, with Ohio’s two-week cases per 100,000 people dropping from 560.5 cases per 100,000 people on Oct. 7 to 507.4 cases per 100,000 people on Thursday, according to the state health department (Source: “Ohio continues to see decrease in COVID-19 transmission rate,” Dayton Daily News, Oct. 14).

The transmission rate has been declining for at least three weeks and has decreased by nearly 200. On Sept. 23, Ohio reported 698.7 cases per 100,000 people over two weeks.

As of Thursday, only five counties had more than 1,000 cases per 100,000: Guernsey, Coshocton, Muskingum, Gallia and Jackson counties. On Sept. 23, Ohio had 30 counties with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000.

More than 54.5% of Ohioans have started the COVID-19 vaccine, including 65.97% of adults and 63.88% of those 12 and older. Nearly 51% of residents have finished the vaccine, including 61.66% of adults and 59.56% of Ohioans 12 and older.


Municipalities facing mounting lawsuits, expenses for disregarding access for people with disabilities

In recent years, hundreds of jurisdictions across the country have faced lawsuits or entered settlement agreements after failing to meet ADA requirements for pedestrians and mass transit users (Source: “Reluctant Localities Are Being Dragged Into Court to Fix Sidewalks for People With Disabilities,” Kaiser Health News, Oct. 13).

The sheer number of noncompliant sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian signals and subway stations illustrates the challenges for people with disabilities. It also leaves cities in a legal and financial squeeze, with the average curb ramp costing between $9,000 and $19,000. When the court requires a jurisdiction to build thousands of them to catch up, it can strain budgets.

The American Disabilities Act (ADA) and the 1973 Rehabilitation Act resulted in significant changes that improved access and accommodations for people with disabilities. The ADA is clear that people with disabilities have the same right to pedestrian infrastructure as anyone else.

Under the ADA, new sidewalks must be built for accessibility. There are requirements covering a curb ramp’s width, slope and other specifications. As for existing sidewalks, a federal appeals court in 1993 ruled that curb ramps must be installed or regraded when the road is altered, such as when it is repaved.


FDA approves e-cigarette product for first time

Federal health regulators Tuesday for the first time authorized the legal marketing of an electronic cigarette, saying the product from RJ Reynolds could help addicted adult smokers (Source: “FDA authorizes an e-cigarette for first time, citing benefit for smokers,” The Hill, Oct. 12).

The Food and Drug Administration said the company's refillable Vuse Solo closed device and tobacco-flavored e-liquid pods could benefit addicted adult smokers who switch by reducing their exposure to harmful chemicals.

The first-of-its-kind authorization comes amid an effort by the FDA to regulate the massive vaping industry and determine which products are allowed to stay on the market. 

It signals the agency may look more favorably on tobacco-flavored products than the fruity ones that are most popular among teenagers, even though some feature extremely high nicotine content.


New HPIO fact sheets explore racial, geographic differences in impact of Ohio addiction crisis

The Health Policy Institute of Ohio has released two new fact sheets that detail the impact of the addiction crisis on different groups of Ohioans.  

The fact sheets are being released in conjunction with the recently published HPIO policy brief Taking Action to Strengthen Ohio’s Addiction Response.

The first fact sheet, HPIO Addiction Evidence Project: Insights on addiction and race, provides data and information on differences in addiction outcomes by race, and the factors that drive those differences, with a focus on Black Ohioans.

“Ohio has taken many steps to prevent addiction and improve treatment access for people with substance use disorder,” the fact sheet states. “However, addiction remains a concern across the state, affecting people from every community and inequitably impacting Ohioans of color.”

The second fact sheet, HPIO Addiction Evidence Project: Insights on addiction and geography, presents information about differences in downstream addiction-related harms, and the factors driving those differences, across Ohio communities based on region and county type.

According to the fact sheet, “Addiction-related harms remain a concern across the state and there are clear regional disparities in economic conditions and access to life-saving services that exacerbate those harms. Going forward, Ohio can do more to ensure that where someone lives does not increase the likelihood they will die of a drug overdose.”


State lawmakers begin revisiting vaccine exemption bill

State lawmakers this week listened to public testimony for the first time on a fast-tracked bill to limit COVID-19 vaccine mandates and expand exemptions, after the bill failed to get enough support in the Ohio House (Source: “COVID-19 vaccine exemption bill gets another look from Ohio lawmakers,” Akron Beacon-Journal, Oct. 6).

Hearings on Wednesday and Thursday were "informal hearings," said Rep. Dick Stein, R-Norwalk, House Commerce and Labor Committee chairman, only to determine "the line between personal freedom and companies' rights... and where that lies."

Republican leadership tried to rush House Bill 435 and pass it out quickly last week, but the speedy timeline resulted in pushback. Legislators are now taking more time to revisit the bill's details.


COVID-19 surge begins to show signs of easing

A two-month surge in COVID-19 infections in Ohio appears to be easing, state data shows (Source: “COVID-19 surge begins to ease in Ohio,” Ohio Capital Journal, Oct. 8).

On Oct. 1, the average rate of new infections by day fell to about 5,000, down from a recent high of about 7,400 per day in mid-September.

While less pronounced, the number of patients in the hospital on a given day with COVID-19 has declined as well. Fewer than 3,400 Ohioans are hospitalized with the disease as of Thursday, compared to about 3,700 in late September.

Of all COVID-19 tests taken statewide, an average of 12% are coming back positive as of Thursday, compared to about 14% in September.

The disease continues to spread at high rates, even compared to the peaks seen in late 2020. There’s also no telling how significantly the pandemic will continue to ebb. Regardless, the declines are a ray of optimistic news amid a summer and fall unexpectedly dominated by the Delta variant of the coronavirus that causes the disease.