Feds shortchanged Indiana $175M over 2 years in fighting opioid epidemic, report says

Indiana is one of the most underfunded states in the nation in fighting the opioid epidemic, getting shortchanged by $175.6 million in federal funds in the last two years, according to a new analysis by the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation.

The foundation looked at the amount of money each state received from the federal government to combat the epidemic and how many opioid-related deaths each state reported.

Indiana accounted for 4% of the nation’s opioid-related deaths, but received just 1.9% of the nation’s opioid-related funding that was awarded to states, or about $158.8 million during the past two years, according to the report, which was released Tuesday morning.

That put Indiana fourth among all states in terms of underfunding, behind only Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey, the study concluded.

“The consequences of this are severe for the losers,” the report said. “If opioid-related overdose deaths serve as a proxy for the severity of the crisis, this analysis shows that some states most in need of resources to tackle the opioid epidemic aren’t receiving their fair share of funding.”

The federal government allocated $11 billion in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 to combat the opioid epidemic, which claimed almost 400,000 lives from 1999 through 2017.

The money can be used to expand access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid-use disorder, educating medical providers on improved opioid prescribing practices, and increasing access to the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

At the other end of the spectrum, California received nearly 11% of the nation’s opioid-related funding, but reported only 4.8% of the nation’s opioid-related deaths. That resulted in an overfunding of $506.4 million, the analysis said.

Other states getting overfunded were Texas, Washington and Oregon.

“People suffering from opioid use disorder are worth the same across each state,” the Fairbanks report said. The Indianapolis-based foundation awards grants in the areas of health, education and the “vitality of Indianapolis.”

The foundation said it used data from the Bipartisan Policy Center for federal opioid appropriations by state, and from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for opioid-related overdose deaths.

It supplemented that with research from academic researchers that concluded that official death counts significantly underestimated the percentage of opioid-related overdose deaths.

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