Opioid bill has provision sought by health department

Sandusky Register

SANDUSKY — House and Senate leaders reached agreement on a bill to fight opioid addiction that includes a provision sought by the Erie County Health Department.

Update: The House passed the bill Friday. The measure now awaits final passage in the Senate.

The bill raises a 16-bed limit for treatment facilities that receive Medicaid payments. The health department, which opened a 16-bed detox facility at the beginning of this year, asked lawmakers to raise the limit so it could add beds to the facility.

The final bill raises the limit for five years. Ohio’s two senators, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and U.S. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, had wanted to permanently eliminate the bed cap but had to accept the “sunset” provision to get the change in the final bill, a spokesman for Brown said. After five years, the senators plan to seek to extend the change or eliminate the cap entirely.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this week, with a Senate vote expected soon thereafter.

Erie County’s health commissioner, Pete Schade, said the health department limited the detox center to 16 beds because of the rule. He said the facility can be expanded to 32 beds and said an expansion is likely to happen soon if a new federal law goes into effect.

“We won’t double overnight, but we’ll probably add four men and four women and get that ramped up, and maybe expand another four,” Schade said.

Raising the limit has long been sought by Erie County officials. Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo talked to Brown about it in 2016 when Brown spoke at a conference at Kalahari resort.

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Opioid bill has provision sought by health department »