Common-sense drug addiction treatment needed

No wonder we’re losing the war against drug abuse. The pushers are more organized than efforts to wean addicts away from their deadly wares.

It is appropriate that Ohio’s Medicaid program helps drug addicts who want to kick their habits. But that aid is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars needlessly.

An investigation of Medicaid drug addiction programs found that it can cost taxpayers hundreds of dollars a day not to treat an addict – but merely to transport him to a clinic.

It seems methadone, a key drug used to treat heroin addiction, is available in only 12 clinics in Ohio. All are in urban areas.

So, when Medicaid is used to help an addict get “clean,” he has to be transported to one of those clinics – sometimes daily. The cost can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for rural counties. One addict in Vinton County reportedly had to be transported by cab to a methadone clinic in Columbus, at a round-trip cost of more than $400.

This is crazy. Addicts and their families already were aware of the difficulty in finding drug addiction clinics. State officials need to look into common-sense steps, such as carefully controlled availability of methadone in community hospitals, to make it easier and cheaper to win the war against drug abuse.

Judges and state appellate court justices should be selected without regard to political party affiliation. Ohio has it half right in that respect – but needs to finish the job.

Buckeye State voters are the only ones in the nation who use primary election ballots in which candidates for judge are identified by party, then go to general elections in which party labels are absent.

State Supreme Court Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor said this week that the state should do away with party labels for primary elections, too. She made the comment as she unveiled an eight-point plan for improving judicial elections, during the state Bar Association’s annual meeting in Cleveland.

Obviously, any system in which judges and justices are elected involves politics. But the public’s perception of impartiality is affected even more when candidates are identified by party.

Fourteen states already conduct the whole process of judicial elections without identifying candidates’ political party affiliations. O’Connor is right: Ohio should join them.