Governor Baker Monday discussed two ways of addressing the state's opioid epidemic and both are laudable. But there is a key avenue in place in need of funding.
The governor met Monday with nursing groups and academic leaders to discuss further measures of reducing or eliminating prescription drug abuse. He also spoke of meeting with other New England governors next week to take on cross-border trafficking.
Good ideas both, but behavioral care organizations like the Pittsfield-based Brien Center for Mental Health Services and Substance Abuse Services are fighting the addiction fight on the front lines without all the resources they need. In a meeting at The Eagle Monday, Brien Center CEO Christine Macbeth spoke of the state approving the addition of more beds for treatment but not following up with the necessary funding as an example of the dilemma her center faces.
Low reimbursement rates from the state combined with high demand for services are putting a considerable strain on the Brien Center, which is answering the call with assistance from Berkshire Medical Center. Ms. Macbeth said Brien will be doing more fund-raising, which is a challenge given the unfair stigma addiction and mental illness still carry. That effort aside, the state must do better addressing the treatment aspect of the opioid addiction issue, as well as the problem of addiction to alcohol. And there is no way around it, that requires money.