Ohio addictions chief addresses overdose deaths

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The head of Ohio’s addictions agency says new data on drug overdose deaths in Ohio drives home the need for expanded insurance coverage.

Orman Hall is director of the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services. He says the outcome for drug addicts can vary widely depending on who has insurance and who doesn’t.

Hall said Tuesday he considers expansion of insurance through Medicaid a moral imperative.

Data released last week show the number of people who died of accidental overdoses jumped 14 percent in 2011 for a total of 1,765 overall deaths.

The Department of Health figures place the blame on prescription painkillers and a worsening heroin problem.

The continued increase comes as Ohio has launched numerous efforts to crack down on illegal prescription painkiller use and distribution.

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