Opioid report offers recommendations


DOVER — Delaware needs to continue taking steps to tackle the opioid epidemic, a report released Thursday by The Pew Charitable Trusts states.

Submitted to the Behavioral Health Consortium, the findings recommend changes aimed at expanding access to care for individuals battling addiction. According to the Department of Health and Social Services, 419 people fatally overdosed last year, up from 345 the year prior.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Delaware sixth in the country in overdose mortality rate in 2017.

“Addressing Delaware’s opioid use disorder is a major step in making our state healthier and stronger,” Lt. Governor Bethany Hall-Long, who chairs the consortium, said in a statement. “I’ve said all along that it is going to take all hands on deck in order to make an impact and begin saving lives. This report lays out a comprehensive set of specific steps Delaware can take to create a behavioral health system that works for everyone.”

The report says the General Assembly should direct DHSS to fund reimbursement for drug addiction treatment at a higher rate, create small medication packages for treatment and health care facilities that can be easily accessed to combat addiction, allow all physician assistants and providers to prescribe buprenorphine, establish a task force to tackle issues around the cost of treating addiction, provide to the Department of Correction additional funding to help people struggling with opioid addiction and require care management for people with high needs returning to the community.

“The recommendations confirm the path we are on in terms of strengthening our public treatment system across the state,” Elizabeth Romero, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health in the Department of Health and Social Services, said in a statement. “Pew Charitable Trusts has provided us with important insights into identifying the gaps we have in the treatment system, our workforce needs, and issues with coverage and reimbursement.”

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