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Council Committees to Discuss Overdose Prevention Plan

The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee and its Health and Human Services Committee will meet jointly at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 27, for a work session on the County’s opioid prevention program.

In response to a statewide 54 percent increase in heroin-related overdose deaths from 2011 to 2012 and a 15 percent increase in the total number of fatal drug and alcohol-related deaths, the State Department of Health and Mental Hygiene directed all counties to develop an overdose prevention plan.

The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Phil Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, and the Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/OnDemand/index.html.

In Maryland from 2011 to 2012, there was an increase of 54 percent (245 to 378) in heroin-related overdoses and a 15 percent increase (663 to 761) in the total number of fatal drug and alcohol-related deaths. The joint committee has previously discussed that the increase in opioid and heroin abuse is a national problem and that the significant recent increase in heroin overdoses is driven in part by increased use of prescription opioids and the lower cost of heroin when prescription drugs are no longer available.

The largest proportion of Marylanders dying from overdoses are middle age, but the largest increase in fatal heroin-related overdoses have been among younger age groups, including a 53 percent increase in ages 15-24 and a 59 percent increase in ages 35-44.

On Thursday, the joint committee will be briefed on Montgomery County’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Plan, the data driving the plan and steps that have been implemented thus far.

Preliminary findings from 2010-13 data show the greater prevalence of overdoses in Germantown, Gaithersburg and Wheaton. It indicates an increased use of heroin and prescription drugs among school-aged children.

At 2 p.m. in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room, the HHS Committee will meet jointly with the Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee, which is chaired by Councilmember Navarro and includes Councilmembers Cherri Branson and Hans Riemer, for a worksession on the government employee wellness program.

The joint committee will begin the session with a presentation from AON Consulting on the transition to Medicare D Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) programs for Montgomery County Public Schools, Montgomery County Government, Montgomery College and the Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission. The presentation will include information on the reasons organizations are moving to Medicare D EGWP, the changes to retirees accessing prescription benefits and the impact on OPEB contributions because of the reduction in long-term liability to the agencies.


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