Louisiana received 18 dollars per person in federal funding to fight the opioid epidemic last year, for a total of 82 million dollars from over 50 different revenue streams according to the Bipartisan Policy Center. Chief medical adviser Anand Parekh says the majority of those funds went to high population parishes like Orleans and East Baton Rouge, but…

“In many rural parishes, per capita funding was lower, and in some of these parishes they had pretty high overdose mortality rates.”

That 82 million was a 71 percent increase in funding over 2017, as the feds OK’d a substantial increase in funds to treat the growing epidemic.

State Medicaid enrollees made 1,858,000 emergency department stays from June 2017-18, and Parekh says 40% of those with opioid use disorders are on the government-run health insurance. He credits Governor Edwards’ Medicaid expansion with getting treatment into some of the areas hardest hit by the epidemic.

“What that has done is really get at the unmet need in the state and insure that this population has access to treatment.”

Medicaid spent a projected 28 million dollars on opioid treatment drugs and Naloxone in 2018.

Total opioid deaths rose from 346 in 2016 to 415 in Louisiana for 2017, and Fentanyl deaths in particular increased from 2.0 deaths per 100,000 in 2016 to 3.6. Parekh says one way to get that number to come down would be addressing addiction in the inmate population.

“There is good evidence to demonstrate that if you can get to individuals while they are incarcerated and treat them for opioid use disorders that overdose rates are lower upon reentry.”

Louisiana’s rate of 9.3 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2017 was still noticeably lower than the southern regional average of 14.1.


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