Date: February 11, 2018

New on TASC's Blog

Governor Pritzker Establishes New Justice, Equity and Opportunity Initiative
TASC Blog, 2/14/19
Governor JB Pritzker has established the Justice, Equity and Opportunity (JEO) Initiative that will be housed under and spearheaded by Lieutenant Governor Juliana Stratton. The initiative will have three full-time staff within the Office of the Lieutenant Governor. TASC President Pam Rodriguez served on then-Governor-elect Pritzker's Restorative Justice and Safe Communities Committee, which advised the new administration on criminal justice reform and public safety, and endorsed the creation of the JEO Initiative. "At TASC, we've had the privilege of working with Juliana for years on initiatives and policies to advance justice," said Rodriguez. "With her leadership as Lieutenant Governor, we are thrilled to see the formation of the JEO and look forward to supporting broad reforms taking shape at the highest level."


House health panel eyes putting consumer warnings on short-term plans
Modern Healthcare, 2/13/19
Democrats and Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday signaled they could band together to slap clear consumer warnings on short-term limited-duration health plans. The bill by Health Subcommittee Chair Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) aims to temper the Trump administration's move to let people keep short-term plans for up to three years. These plans offer limited benefits and the insurers can deny claims they deem as a symptom of a pre-existing condition.

Push for Medicare buy-in picks up with '50 and over' bill
Politico, 2/13/19
House and Senate Democrats unveiled a plan Wednesday that would allow anyone over age 50 to buy into Medicare - an incremental step to expand health coverage beyond Obamacare's gains that offers an alternative to the ambitious restructuring progressives envision in their push for Medicare for All.

Morning Briefing: Utah Governor Signs Plan To Minimize Voter-Approved Medicaid Expansion, Offering Road Map To Other Red States
Kaiser Health News, 2/12/19
"I think we're doing the long-term responsible thing," said state Sen. Allen Christensen, the bill's lead sponsor. But there was an outcry from critics who said the Legislature was ignoring the wishes of the voters. "This is a dark day for democracy in Utah," said Andrew Roberts, a spokesman for the group Utah Decides. The lawmakers' moves will likely act as an example to other red states for how they can avoid being pushed into an uncontrolled expansion. Includes articles from The Associated Press, Politico, and more.

Substance Use, Treatment, & Recovery

Meth's Comeback: A New Speed Epidemic Takes Its Toll on San Francisco
KQED, 2/8/19
While public health officials have focused on the opioid epidemic in recent years, tallying heroin deaths and cracking down on pill prescriptions, another epidemic has been brewing quietly, but vigorously, behind the scenes. Methamphetamine is back. In San Francisco, over the last five years, Drug Enforcement Administration seizures of meth have jumped, hospitalizations and emergency room visits have spiked and deaths have doubled. The toll the drug is taking on the city's public health, emergency response and police departments is now spurring the mayor to establish a task force to combat the new speed epidemic.

Overshadowed By Opioid Epidemic, Lack Of Resources Hurts Pittsburghers Addicted To Meth
WESA, 2/13/19
Most overdose fatalities in Pennsylvania continue to be opioid related, but deaths associated with methamphetamine and other stimulants are also on the rise, according to a new analysis from the University of Minnesota State Health Access Data Center. Yet nationally and locally, the conversation continues to focus almost exclusively on opioids, overshadowing those battling addictions to other drugs such as methamphetamine.

Study: Rising concern that synthetic opioids contaminate other drugs, too
Minnesota Public Radio, 2/13/19
While the state and nation are seeing fewer deaths tied to heroin overdoses, synthetic opioids like fentanyl are contributing to more deaths, and there are concerns they're appearing in other non-opioid drug supplies. An analysis released Tuesday by the University of Minnesota has found that overdose deaths that involve heroin may be leveling out in the country, although states are seeing an increase in overdose deaths involving drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine.

How Racial Bias Has Shaped the Opioid Epidemic
U.S. News & World Report, 2/11/19
doctor's offices and elsewhere in health care are likely drivers behind stark racial and class divides in drug addiction and overdose deaths in California, a new study suggests. While affecting people across race and ethnicity, the opioid crisis gripping the nation has been concentrated largely among low-income whites, and has been labeled a problem primarily of public health, not of criminal justice. The epidemic is thought to have been touched off by a combination of social factors - including trauma, poverty and a lack of economic opportunity - and the widespread availability of prescription opioids beginning in the 1990s. The new study, published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicates the health care field has had a hand in driving the epidemic that goes beyond merely dispensing prescription drugs, suggesting that differing access to and within the system has resulted in rampant addiction among low-income whites as well as a sea of untreated pain in minority communities.

Health plans don't want patients on opioids. So what are they doing for pain?
Politico, 2/12/19
The national effort to curb the opioid crisis faces another big potential obstacle - insurers who won't pay for less-addictive ways to control patients' pain. Patients seeking other pain treatment options often find that their insurers won't foot the bill or are forcing them to jump through maddening hoops to get coverage. Experts in and out of government worry that this will make it more difficult to reverse the deadly opioid crisis that killed more than 47,000 people nationwide in 2017, even as doctors cut back on opioid prescribing and state and federal governments step up efforts to prevent and treat addiction.

Mental Health

Morning Briefing: Doctors Should Identify Patients Who Are At Risk For Depression During Or After Pregnancy, Task Force Recommends
Kaiser Health News, 2/13/19
The new guidelines comes from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a group whose guidance most insurance plans are required to follow. In 2016, the federal task force recommended that primary-care physicians screen for depression among adults, especially pregnant women and recent mothers, but this year the group went a step further and advises doctors to identify women who may be at risk. Includes articles from The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more.


Nearly 1 in 7 US kids and teens has a mental health condition, and half go untreated, study says
CNN, 2/11/19
Half of children with a mental health condition in the United States go without treatment, according to a study published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. The researchers analyzed data from the 2016 National Survey of Children's Health, a nationwide survey administered to parents of children and teens. Of the 46.6 million children ages 6 through 18 whose parents completed the survey, 7.7 million had at least one mental health condition -- such as depression, anxiety or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder -- and only half received treatment or counseling from a mental health provider in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Around Illinois

Illinois Supreme Court announces changes to make court costs more affordable
Fox Illinois, 2/13/19
Chief Justice Lloyd A. Karmeier and the Illinois Supreme Court announced Wednesday changes that could make court costs more manageable. The changes will be made to the assessment system, where fees, fines and other court costs are paid by civil and criminal case litigants. The changes also stem from Public Act 100-0987 and include Civil Assessment Schedules and fee waivers. Beginning July 1, 2019, the changes to the system will go into effect.

Health & Justice in the News is a summary of recent news stories relating to criminal justice, mental health, addiction, recovery, and related issues. It is compiled and published by TASC each Monday and Thursday.
Some headlines and text have been altered by TASC for clarity or emphasis, or to minimize discriminatory or stigmatizing language. Opinions in the articles and op-eds do not necessarily express the views of TASC or our staff or partners.

See what's happening on our social sites