Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield Target Opioid Overuse With New Efforts
The major players in the health care landscape will offer new guidelines and strategies to cut back on both high dosages and the number of patients who are prescribed painkillers.
How Kaiser, Blue Shield Will Seek To Limit Opioid Overdoses
With research indicating that the risk for fatal overdose dramatically increases when people take higher doses of opioids, two of California's major health players -- an HMO and an insurance company -- are launching efforts aimed at getting doctors to prescribe the painkillers in smaller amounts. The HMO -- Kaiser Permanente of Southern California -- is having the doctors on its payroll gradually reduce the dosages of opioids they prescribe until they're below a level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined constitutes a high overdose risk. The insurance company -- Blue Shield of California -- is using its power as a treatment authorizer to bring the dosage of its network doctors' opioid prescriptions down to the same level targeted by Kaiser. (Plevin, 5/10)
Meanwhile, staffing issues hamper Ventura County's efforts to fight its drug problems —
The Ventura County Star:
Ventura’s Drug Problem Grows As Resources Shrink
In the early 2000s, the city of Ventura had a dedicated narcotics division and another unit dedicated to property crimes. That changed around 2004, when the two merged to form one street crimes unit. When that happened, staffing was nearly cut in half, from 13 to seven officers, where it is now. Fewer officers, changing laws that make it harder to prosecute and higher instances of other crimes including identity theft mean getting a handle on the city's drug problem is harder than ever, Sgt. Terry Medina said. (Martinez, 5/9)