Senate Health Care Bill Raises Concerns About Medicaid in Knoxville

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – There’s new anxiety over what the Senate health care reform bill could mean for East Tennessee. A number of patients and doctors are concerned it will have a devastating impact on mental health and addiction treatment in Knoxville. At the Helen Ross McNabb Center, people addicted to opioids enter a drug-treatment program, sign up for mental health care and fill their medication. “They’re there when you need help or you get in a bind when you have no one to talk to,” said patient Audrey Furline. For the last 10 years, Furline has been coming to the Helen Ross McNabb Center to get help for her depression. She credits the therapists and doctors for saving her life. “I don’t k

Memphis Man Indicted for Distributing Lethal Dose of Fentanyl

(SHELBY COUNTY D.A. NEWS RELEASE) - On June 29, 2017, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment against 30-year-old Cortez Armstrong, aka “B.B.,” for distribution of a variety of narcotics including fentanyl which resulted in the death of 21-year-old Z.R. Lawrence J. Laurenzi, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee, announced the indictment today. According to the indictment, on or about October 9, 2016, Armstrong distributed fentanyl to Z.R. The victim’s body was discovered by law enforcement during the early morning hours of October 10, 2016 at 3799 Shelby Drive, Memphis, Tennessee. The cause of Z.R.’s death was determined to be the result of a fentanyl over

State Grant Brings Training, Life-Saving Overdose Drug to Region

SULLIVAN COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – A local organization is taking steps to reduce opioid drug overdoses in our area. The Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition received a new state grant to bring training and the distribution of the opioid overdose drug Naloxone to our region. The grant is called the State Targeted Response Grant, with nearly $133,000 coming from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Because of the grant, officials with the Sullivan County Anti-Drug Coalition say this is the first time Naloxone will be widely available for the entire community. “What it will do is get Naloxone into the hands of people trained to administer it,” said Director of the S

UT Knoxville to Study Alcohol, Tobacco Use on Campus

Separate task forces this fall are going to review the University of Tennessee's alcohol and smoking policies on the Knoxville campus. UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport announced the move Thursday. Student leaders have asked for the last several years for a campuswide review of alcohol use, Davenport noted. "This process will give us all an opportunity to collect broad-based input and to have informed conversations about this complicated and multifaceted matter," the chancellor wrote in a statement posted on her webpage. "The task force will prepare a report to summarize its work, make recommendations for policy changes, if any, and provide relevant information regarding the potential impacts

Prescription Database Helping to Stop Opioid Abuse in Tennessee

The nation’s struggle with opioids isn’t a secret. Nearly 2 million Americans are estimated to be addicted to opioids. In 2012 alone more than 259 million opioid prescriptions were written. Prescription medication abuse is a leading cause of heroin abuse: Four out five heroin users started on prescription drugs. That’s why medical professionals in Tennessee are using technology to help law enforcement curtail drug abuse. Professionals say prescription abuse and overuse are telltale signs of a problem, along with doctor shopping. At the University of Tennessee Medical Center's out-patient pharmacy a digital tool is helping pharmacists identify people looking to abuse drugs. "It's not surprisi

Knox Co. DAG: Suspected Opioid Deaths This Year Outpacing 2016

KNOX COUNTY - In the battle to combat ever-increasing opioid addiction and overdose deaths, more bad news surfaces for Knox County: Suspected overdose deaths are not only higher than they've ever been, they're far ahead of last year's pace. According to Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen, 108 deaths were tied to suspected overdoses as of May 1 this year. This time last year, that number was 60. There's no sign that suspected overdose deaths have peaked, either. "We knew this was coming, we knew we were spiking," Allen told 10News on Wednesday. "We knew this was going to be a wave like we'd never seen. But our numbers are pointing out we're dealing with it every day." Most of

Tennessee Senate Bill 458 (Narcan in Schools)

As enacted, authorizes local education agencies and nonpublic schools to maintain opioid antagonists in schools. - Amends TCA Title 49 and Title 63. https://legiscan.com/TN/bill/SB0458/2017

Miss Tennessee Talks about Her Dad's Suicide and His Drug Abuse

Addiction is a disease that touches almost every person in Tennessee, even Miss Tennessee. One in six people in Tennessee are misusing drugs, according to the CDC. Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis spoke to Caty Davis who knows what it's like to lose someone to addiction. Behind the classic blonde hair and the crown, this Powell native has a heart of hurt. Miss Tennessee Caty Davis says, "My father was an addict, and three years ago on June 11, he committed suicide." Instead of letting that addiction define her, she's using her title as Miss Tennessee to empower families affected by substance abuse. Caty Davis says, "It's also about me visiting recovery centers and raising money for children

Senate Health Care Bill Contains $2 Billion to Address Opioid Crisis, A Fraction of What Some had Ho

The U.S. Senate's health care bill contains $2 billion to help fight the opioid crisis gripping the nation, far less than some Republican senators had initially hoped. The bill includes $2 billion for fiscal year 2018 to provide grants to states for treatment and recovery services for people with mental or substance abuse disorders. This amount would fall short of the $45 billion some Republicans senators had sought over 10 years, according to reports in The Washington Post and The Hill. But Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said the bill increases resources to fight the opioid crisis and that some senators are likely to lobby for additional funding when the legislation goes to the Senate floor

Anderson County Mayor Asks for Support of Suit against "Big Pharma"

CLINTON, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank has asked the County Commission to pass a motion of support for a suit filed by District Attorneys against major pharmaceutical companies on behalf of nine East Tennessee counties. Part of that lawsuit claims Purdue Pharm misled physicians that OxyContin had minimal addiction risks associated with it. Mayor Franks also asked for approval of two other motions, one that authorized a letter to be drafted to the State Attorney General to ask him to review the Ohio lawsuit filed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, and the other requesting the authorization to form a working group to research cost-effective methods to support the efforts

Study: More Tennessee Women than Men End Up in Hospital from Opioid Abuse

ROCKVILLE, Md. (WATE) – A new study about the opioid epidemic finds that Tennessee women are more likely than Tennessee men to wind up in the hospital with a painkiller-related health problem. The study was conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the federal agency tasked with improving the safety and quality of America’s health care system. The group looked back at emergency room visits and hospitalization rates from 2005 to 2014 and found a massive rise in the numbers related to opioids. While nationally, the rate is still higher for men than women, it’s the reverse in Tennessee with women having the higher rates for opioid ER visits and hospital stays. The figures als

Heather Jouget Dies from Heroin Overdose

Heather Jouget Best Friend 3/17/1970 - 5/6/2017 Roanoke, Virginia My best friend shown here with me died of a heroin overdose on May 6th and we all expect to find Fentanyl or a like drug. She is not what the mainstream would think a heroin addict is. She worked for the state police for years and before that she was a MP in the military. I think it is so important to share all the faces of opiate deaths so people understand that this is not in the back alleys and does not happen to just the "wrong" people. We have a generation of opiate addicts and we need to put a voice, face to this huge issue and hopefully save some loved ones. So another best friend does not get a call that says "I'm s

TBI says New Deadly, Potent Drug Carfentanil Found in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The new street drug carfentanil that almost killed a police officer in Ohio has now made its way to Tennessee. Local 8 News Anchor Lauren Davis was in Nashville for a press conference Thursday where the TBI, the Department of Health, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Department of Mental Health sounded the alarm on this extremely potent and deadly new drug. Fentanyl and heroin have been around for several years now, but there's a new drug on the street that officials say can kill you instantly. Carfentanil has made its way to Tennessee in the last three weeks. TBI Director Mark Gwyn said, "It's 10,000 times more potent than morphine and is used to put large animals

Tenn. Health, Law Officials Warn of Fentanyl Dangers: You can Die Just Touching the Drug

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Tennessee’s top law enforcement and health officials “sounded the alarm” Thursday that you can die quickly just by touching certain drugs that are found on the street or maybe a party. The head of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Tennessee Highway Patrol and commissioners for health and mental health and substance abuse departments warned Tennesseans about new, fatal risks of fentanyl-related drugs that are being manufactured around the state. TBI Director Mark Gwyn said he was “incredibly worried about mass casualties about these illicit drugs,” while warning that “this has the potential to impact every single Tennessean.” Gwyn cited a recent drug operation i

State Authorities Warn of the Dangers of Fentanyl in East Tennessee

KNOXVILLE - Leaders from several Tennessee state agencies discussed Thursday morning the dangers of fentanyl, carfentanil and other fentanyl derivatives in the state and the damage these powerful drugs can cause. Fentanyl and fentanyl derivatives are powerful synthetic opioid drugs often imported and used by criminals to create counterfeit pills or to mix with other illegal drugs such as heroin and marijuana. The Director of the TBI, Mark Gwyn, spoke at Tuesday's news conference as well as John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Health, Marie Williams, LCSW, Commissioner, Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and Col. Tracy Trott, Tenness

Founders of Krēd Share Their Stories of Addiction

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Frankie Ballard is performing in Knoxville next Sunday to benefit the Krēd Foundation of Hope. Greg Love and Corey McLemore created the foundation to help others who are struggling with addiction. Local 8 News reporter Sarah Jane Anderson sat down with the duo to find out what inspires them to help others. "I had gone through rehab, and I had addiction to alcohol and other drugs. When I got through, I met a bunch of guys that wanted to give back," said Love. McLemore was one of those guys. "There's this huge financial help that people need," McLemore added. "If you don't have insurance or if you lost your job, you've got kids, you don't have money to go to treatmen

Meet Baby Doe: The Face Behind the Case

Like thousands of children born every year, Baby Doe was born addicted to opioids. The first days of his life were spent in excruciating pain as doctors weaned him from his opioid addiction. Baby Doe's mother fell victim to an epidemic that has ravaged Tennessee, causing immense suffering to those born addicted to opioids and costing tens of thousands of dollars to local governments forced to deal with the aftermath. ​ The opioid epidemic did not appear overnight. It is the result of a concerted effort among Purdue Pharma, L.P. (Purdue), Mallinckrodt PLC and other opioid manufacturing, to mislead doctors and the public about the need for and addictive nature of opioid drugs. They spent years

Study: AHCA Could Cost Tennessee 28k Jobs

Tennessee stands to lose more than 28,000 jobs by 2026 under the GOP's health care reform bill, which would reduce the health care workforce in the state and nationally, per a new study. In the short term, the tax repeal under the American Health Care Act would add 864,000 jobs nationally, but the gains would be stripped away in subsequent years as changes to coverage and cuts to Medicaid funding took effect, according to a study from The Commonwealth Fund and the George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. By 2026, a net 924,000 jobs would be lost — 725,000 in the health care sector — when changes to the premium tax credit and Medicaid funding cuts phase in, per the repo

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If they're still alive, there's hope.