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Governor Inslee announces executive order to address opioid epidemic

Governor Inslee announced this morning his office’s plan to address the opioid use public health crisis by coordinating multi-sector efforts through executive order. We applaud the Governor for his strong leadership on addressing the opioid crisis. And we are honored to have been named a partner in action for this important initiative.

One of the core goals of the Alliance is to reduce overuse in our health care system. For the first time this year the Alliance analyzed opioid prescription rates in our state to identify those areas where overuse may be prevalent. Our analysis, based on our robust database of 4 million lives in the state, found startling results.

  • Approximately one in six women ages 45 to 64 in Arlington, Enumclaw and Olympia were prescribed opioids in the year the report covers.
  • Some cities, such as Bellevue, have opioid prescription rates consistently below the state average for all age groups and both genders, while others, like Kennewick, are consistently above the state average.
  • In the highest prescribing regions, approximately one in ten girls and one in thirteen boys aged 12–19 years received at least one prescription for an opioid in the reporting period, rates that suggest that prescriptions go far beyond the palliative care for a major, severe illness.
  • Girls ages 12 to 19 in Port Angeles are supplied opioids for an average of 45 days, compared to an average of a week for their peers in Enumclaw.

These are just a few examples of the geographic variation that our report uncovered. Together with many other reports from public health and other research groups, these results underscore the magnitude of the problem. Leaders from across the country are recognizing the need for action. Communities, and the families of those affected by opioid addiction, have been begging for solutions to stem the tragic toll the epidemic is taking.

In conjunction with the Bree Collaborative, our committees, which represent the major stakeholder groups in Washington’s health care system, have been working to develop a strategy for informing providers and the public about the dangers of opioid misuse, and what individuals can do to prevent the next generation of addiction. We will be announcing in early 2017 our joint plan for action.

We look forward to collaborating with the governor’s office.

Learn more about national and local efforts

Posted in: Opioids, Overuse

Published: October 7, 2016

About Washington Health Alliance

The Washington Health Alliance is a place where stakeholders work collaboratively to transform Washington state’s health care system for the better. The Alliance brings together organizations that share a commitment to drive change in our health care system by offering a forum for critical conversation and aligned efforts by stakeholders: purchasers, providers, health plans, consumers and other health care partners. The Alliance believes strongly in transparency and offers trusted and credible reporting of progress on measures of health care quality and value. The Alliance is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) nonprofit with more than 185 member organizations. A cornerstone of the Alliance's work is the Community Checkup, a report to the public comparing the performance of medical groups, hospitals and health plans and offering a community-level view on important measures of health care quality (www.wacommunitycheckup.org).

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