Bloomberg acts to restrict painkillers in public hospitals

According to the New York Times, Mayor Bloomberg has imposed limitations on prescriptions for certain pain killers in their 11 public hospitals:

"City officials said the policy was aimed at reducing the growing dependency on painkillers and preventing excess amounts of drugs from being taken out of medicine chests and sold on the street or abused by teenagers and others who want to get high.

"Abuse of prescription painkillers in our city has increased alarmingly," Mr. Bloomberg said"

What took so long?  Maybe he was too busy solving the big soda problem. 

Let me tell you where I come from.  I am a retired Medicaid caseworker with 24+ years of experience in the ways of Medicaid.  I have worked behind the desk as a caseworker, prosecuted fraudulent public assistance as an Investigator and supervised a team responsible for establishing benefits.   

Much of this experience has opened my eyes to the fact that our government likes to think it can fix our problems.  But it can't, it just absorbs our vices, reshapes them and then pays for them.  Welfare in general speaks loudly to this. The spoken goal was to eliminate poverty and yet the very basis of our welfare system rewards those that remain in poverty.

Medicaid works much the same way.  An individual that qualifies for Medicaid has full access to medical providers and prescriptions.   If that individual has a history of substance abuse, the ease of getting a prescribed painkiller for free becomes increasingly important.  Like all government programs once someone qualifies for the benefit, it can replace the desire of that individual to do better.         

Over the last 24+ years I have seen the Medicaid program grow from a stop gap that helps the very poor to the preferred drug supplier for many in our communities.  Many states are facing budgeting shortfalls. Maybe evaluating the abuse of prescribed painkillers is a good place to start.

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