The number of Tennesseans who died from drug overdoses hit another record high in 2017, continuing a troubling trend that’s plagued the state for nearly a decade.
Measures to reduce the number of opioid prescriptions, such as hydrocodone and oxycontin, have started to take hold across the state, as illustrated above in an analysis from the Sycamore Institute.
But, the number of people who died from opioid overdoses jumped year over year, in part from a surge in deaths from illicit drugs, according to new data from the Tennessee Department of Health.
The Mental Health Marketing conference, in its third year, puts the spotlight on how companies can more effectively reach the people who need such treatment.
The debut pilot study from the new Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy spotlighted the challenge in finding an opioid use disorder treatment that doesn’t require self-pay in four states, including Tennessee, particularly for pregnant women.
Read about: “It’s as big a problem as the opioid epidemic.”
The number of hospitals trying to treat an older, sicker population with a smaller clinical staff is set to decline, leading hospitals and health systems to spearhead the building of community partnerships to prepare for that era, health care executives said. Continue reading “LifePoint: ‘Cast of thousands’ needed to tackle problems facing health, hospitals”
What you’ll read about: BirdDog sent seven questions to the Tennessee governor hopefuls to illuminate policy stances on a range of health care topics, including outpatient treatment for substance abuse, balance billing, whether Medicaid expansion would be a priority, and whether the state and/or employers have an obligation to help with access to coverage.
Updated at 6 p.m. on 4.19.2018 to reflect additional responses.
Four of the state’s six leading gubernatorial hopefuls met in Jackson to pitch their strategies for boosting and sustaining life in rural Tennessee.
Two Democrats and two Republicans fielded questions at Lane College about agriculture, infrastructure, education and the economy.
It was the first gubernatorial forum in Jackson in recent memory, said Julie Daniels, spokesperson for the Jackson Chamber of Commerce.
Health care wasn’t a specified topic, but the hot button issue — several small town hospitals have shuttered and closed in parts of West Tennessee — was threaded throughout the 90-minute forum.
Just over 1.5 million people live in rural counties — a population that’s grown about 350,000 since 1980, per the United States Department of Agriculture. In the same time period, those living in urban counties has increased by 1.67 million.
The candidates in attendance (see list below) talked broadly about how they would increase the chances for opportunity and prosperity in some of the state’s most distressed areas.
- Democrat Karl Dean, a former Nashville mayor;
- Democrat House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh;
- Republican Randy Boyd, former commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development; and
- Republican Bill Lee, a Williamson County businessman who is chairman of Lee Company
Neither Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, nor U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., who are both running for the Republican nomination were in attendance.
People who live in rural areas are more likely to be older, have less education and have higher rates of chronic disease than peers in metro areas, according to the Sycamore Institute.
The candidates want to tackle a wide variety of problems ranging from teacher retention and jobs to broadband and workforce development through post-secondary education.
A round-up of some issues and thoughts from candidates follows, although not all candidates were asked the same questions.
First priority upon taking office:
First priority if elected: Fitzhugh: medicaid expansion Lee: people want job, safety, ed for kids Dean: public education + healthcare, jobs Boyd: make Tennessee the place for opportunity
— BirdDog (@readbirddog) April 17, 2018
Vacant mega-site in West Tennessee:
Boyd: First job is to land a tenant. He defended the mega-site, which Fitzhugh said had lost some of its polish because it’s been vacant for so long, saying he doesn’t “believe the glow has worn off one bit.”
Dean: He’d hire a rural economic advisor — “someone to get up every day and go to bed every night thinking about it.”
Fitzhugh: “If you elect me, I’ll be your rural economic developer.”
Lee: The site wasn’t ready when it was marketed. He wants to approach government projects the same as private sector does, knowing on the front end when the project will start and be completed.
Boyd: Wants to establish a “chief epidemic officer” to tackle the opioid abuse problem and work on getting people who need treatment out of jails and into other places.
Dean: Mentioned broadband frequently, linking it to health care, education, jobs and making sure people want to stay in rural areas.
Fitzhugh: Tennessee needs to be prepared for high speed rail across the state.
Lee: Wants Tennessee to lead in agriculture technology and be a leader in the emerging food industry.
Last question of the night, how do all the disparate topics connect?
Boyd: “I want to make Tennessee a state of opportunity for everybody.” Education and “great quality jobs” for everyone, not leaving rural areas or inner cities behind.
Dean: “I think it’s about the future. It’s about hope… “Whether it’s rural poverty or urban poverty we’re not going to ignore it.” He wants to address all the needs including education, health care, jobs.
Fitzhugh: “It’s people first. My motto has been people matter; progress for all. Tennessee always.” He wants good health care, good education and a good place to live for everyone.
Lee: “They are all connected because they impact every single person in the state.” He has a “desire to change” life for people in urban centers, rural areas and suburbs. •
What is this? ‘The Weekender’ is a weekly round-up to spotlight what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.
Suboxone, a narcotic film strip used in medically-assisted treatment for opioid abuse, ranked number one in a recent list of Tennessee’s most prescribed drugs. But the finding may raise questions about data access and how Tennesseans fill the medication, said experts with different data sets.