Recent News

Is America Talking About Opioids the Wrong Way? (Governing)

The crowd was overflowing at a nondescript convention center in suburban Maryland, a few miles from the Baltimore airport. The event had originally been capped at 350, but organizers had to make plans for an overflow room, seating an additional 150 people. Despite that, registration still maxed out days before the conference took place. Any event that brings together three regional leaders in the same room -- in this case, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser -- is noteworthy. But that’s not why the overcapacity crowd had shown up on an unseasonably chilly day in May. It’s because they were all there to discuss the opioid epidemic.

Read the entire story. 

City Health Commissioner Says Health Law Shouldn’t Be Replaced (WBAL)

Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen joined both WBAL News Now with Bryan Nehman and The C4 Show on Wednesday morning.

Wen said  the Affordable Care Act  has been beneficial to the city, why young people should be buying health care, and how the House or Senate health care plan would impact the country.

She also touched on the opioid crisis.

While speaking to C4, she offered an explanation as to why she opposes any plan to replace the current ACA. 

"For me, it's not a political strategy, it's not a talking point," Wen said. "It's about peoples' lives and I've seen exactly what happens when people go without access to health care. I strongly believe that all Americans need to have a baseline of basic health services that we should be getting."

 Read the entire story.

Healthwatch with Dr. Leana Wen: The Senate Healthcare Bill; Baltimore's Opioid Crisis (WYPR)

The Senate version of healthcare legislation is the topic on most people’s minds on Capitol Hill. Senate leadership wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with The Better Care Reconciliation Act.  As of this moment, passage of the Senate health care bill appears somewhat in doubt. Yesterday’s CBO score, and a chorus of critics, say the Senate bill will cause at least 15 million Americans to lose their health insurance by next year. It remains to be seen what effect passing the bill would have on patients, doctors, hospitals, insurers, and public health agencies, although there are plenty of people from each of those groups who have criticized McConnell’s “discussion draft” of the bill.

On today’s edition of Healthwatch, our monthly conversation about health and well-being in Baltimore with Baltimore City Health Commissioner, Dr. Leana Wen, we’ll talk about the impact the Senate bill might have on our city’s most vulnerable populations, and the ongoing fight to quell the growing opioid epidemic. 

 Listen to the entire story. 

Baltimore spending panel expected to approve lease for drug treatment center (Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore officials are expected to approve a 15-year lease at the old Hebrew Orphan Asylum in West Baltimore, where they plan to open a center to help people addicted to heroin and other drugs so they're not taking up emergency room beds.

The stabilization or sobering center at 2700 Rayner Ave. in Mosher would serve around 30 patients at a time, helping them sober up safely and then connecting them with long-term drug treatment and other social services.

The city Board of Estimates, controlled by Mayor Catherine Pugh, is scheduled to vote on the lease agreement Wednesday morning.

Dr. Leana Wen, Baltimore's health commissioner, said the goal is to lighten the load hospitals face from the city's ongoing drug abuse and overdose death crisis. And, she said, to be "treating individuals that have a substance use disorder with the same urgency and compassion as we would any other disease."

Read the entire article. 

Note from the Commissioner: Health care is not just a policy—it is about people’s lives

This week, we learned that the Senate health care proposal would cause over 22 million Americans to lose health insurance coverage. Access to health care is a basic human right because it means access to life. During a forum last weekend with U.S. Senator Van Hollen and Congressman Steny Hoyer, I said that health care is not just a policy—it is about people’s lives. We are deeply concerned about the health of the most vulnerable populations of our communities.

Baltimore Residents Support Cutting Health Disparities

In April 2017, BCHD participated in Mayor Pugh’s Open City Hall initiative for resident feedback through the online survey “Health Equity in Baltimore’s Communities.” We asked eight questions about health, social justice, and our programming in the city to better understand residents’ concerns and priorities.

Health Care Bill Could Boot People With Addiction Out of Treatment (TIME)

The health care bill released by Senate Republicans on Thursday is stoking outrage among mental health and addiction groups for its proposed steep cuts to Medicaid, the government’s largest health insurance program. Medicaid is the single largest payer for mental health services in the United States and provides coverage for millions of Americans with mental health or substance abuse disorders.

The proposed change is especially painful for these organizations because they saw an expansion of mental health coverage under the Affordable Care Act. After it was enacted, an estimated 2.8 million Americans with substance use disorders and 1.3 million with serious mental illness gained health insurance coverage for the first time under Medicaid expansion. In some states, Medicaid programs cover more than 40% of prescriptions of buprenorphine, a drug that treats opioid addiction.

Read the entire story.

Baltimore, other cities with opioid crisis short on overdose antidote (Fox News)

Baltimore averaged around two opioid-related overdose deaths a day last year  — an inordinately high number for a city of just over 622,000.

City health officials, however, say that number could have been even higher if not for the availability of naloxone, the overdose reversal drug that has been used hundreds of times over the last few years amid the ongoing opioid epidemic plaguing Baltimore and other U.S. communities.

But with an estimated 21,000 active heroin users in Baltimore and only about 4,000 doses of naloxone to last until next May, officials in Maryland’s largest city are concerned that they will run out of the lifesaving drug by the end of July.

“Naloxone is a pure antidote to opioid overdoses,” Leana Wen, the Baltimore city health commissioner, told Fox News. “It’s safe, effective, easy to administer and brings somebody back from overdose literally in seconds.”

Read the entire story. 

Watch Dr. Leana Wen speak in Washington Post opioid crisis panel (Daily Record)

Policymakers, researchers and health care experts examined the country’s opioid crisis and discussed ways to fight addiction in America on Wednesday in a series of panels put together by The Washington Post.

One panel, shown here, featured Dr. Leana Wen, Health Commissioner of Baltimore City. She spoke along with Dr. Andrew Kolodny, Co-Director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University about how doctors and prescription providers are looking at new approaches to prevent, treat, and break patterns of addiction in communities across the country.

Watch the entire segment. 

If you don't qualify for Medicaid, you get tax credits (CNBC)

Dr. Leana Wen, health commissioner for Baltimore, Maryland and Paul Howard, senior fellow and director of health policy at Manhattan Institute,  discuss the impact of the GOP Senate healthcare bill.

Wath the entire segment.