OH Atty General Outlines Opioid ‘Recovery’ Plan with the Bureau of Work Comp


By Liz Carey

Columbus, OH (WorkersCompensation.com) – Part of a 12-point “recovery plan” for Ohio’s opioid crisis would enlist the aid of the state’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, OH Attorney General Mike DeWine said. 

The plan, announced at the end of October, would begin two pilot programs within the bureau to incentivize employers who work with employees in recovery from opioid addiction.

According to Dan Tierney, spokesman in Atty. Gen. DeWine’s office, the pilot programs would focus on employers hiring those in recovery, or working with existing employees to get them treatment for addiction. Both programs would use money in the bureau to help cover some of the businesses costs.

One pilot program would help employees stay employed and help employers with the cost of recovery programs, he said.

“Attorney General DeWine feels that if employees know they are not likely to be fired, they are more likely to seek treatment for their addiction, if they know that they won’t lose their job,” Tierney said. “And we know that those going through treatment are much more likely to succeed if they are employed.” 

The second pilot program would provide incentives, through the bureau, to hire employees who are in a drug recovery program. The employer would be paid a percentage of the employee’s salary. Additionally, the employer would get some type of reimbursement if the employee relapsed and caused a workplace accident.

The plan would also:

The plan would be paid for, DeWine said, by drug companies and distributors who have “flooded the state with pills that they knew far exceeded medical need.” In letters written to drug companies Purdue Pharma, Endo Health Solutions, Teva, Johnson & Johnson and Allergan, DeWine said the companies have 30 days to come forward and begin settlement negotiations. DeWine sued the companies early this year for their role in the opioid crisis in Ohio. DeWine reached out to drug distributors Cardinal Health, McKesson and Amerisource Bergen as well and asked the companies to come forward and pay their fair share. 

So far, the bureau has made no move to implement the plan.

Public Relations Manager for the OH Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), Melissa Vince, told WorkersCompensation.com that there were no plans on the horizon to start the programs.

“I’m not aware of any other initiatives like the one he proposed, nor does BWC currently have a program like this in place,” she said in an email. 

In 2011, the Bureau identified more than 8,000 workers in the Ohio workers’ compensation system that were addicted to opioids. By 2015, the organization had worked to reduce that number to just more than 4,000. According to some reports, 14 people a day die in Ohio due to opioid addiction.

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