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Varney: More Tennesseans Seeking Help for Popping Pills than Abusing Alcohol

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health & Substance Abuse Services; August 28, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Abuse of prescription opioids, ie: pain medications, is the number one drug problem for Tennesseans receiving publicly funded assistance for treatment services. Over the past decade, substance abuse admissions for prescription drugs like: hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and methadone have increased 500%.

The situation has dramatically driven admissions to treatment facilities way up, from 764 in 2001 to 3,828 admissions in 2011.

“As of July 1, 2012, the number of admissions in our state for prescription drug abuse exceeded admissions for alcohol abuse for the first time in history,” said E. Douglas Varney, Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (TDMHSAS).

According to a 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 4% of Tennessean’s over the age of 18 and approximately 12% of 18 to 25 year olds reported using pain relievers recreationally in the past year.

“Many people needing substance abuse treatment are not getting the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney. “And of the number of Tennesseans who could benefit from treatment, only about one person in eight actually received it.”

Treatment is effective and saves money

Substance abuse treatment offers both a benefit to those who receive it and a savings to communities.

“The greatest savings is a reduction in the cost of crime for law enforcement, general healthcare costs, court and victimization costs and increased employer earnings,” said Commissioner Varney. “And the gain can also be measured in lives saved from a premature death.”

In 2010, Tennessee’s 1,059 recorded drug-overdose deaths add up to an estimated 7,000 years of life lost, and a loss of earnings of approximately $238 million.

“We all pay a price when someone needing substance abuse treatment doesn’t get the help they need,” said Commissioner Varney.

During the months of June, July and August the TDMHSAS has put the spotlight on the serious epidemic of prescription drug use through the roll out of Prescription for Success: Statewide Strategies to Prevent and Treat the Prescription Drug Abuse Epidemic in Tennessee.

New TN Website for Reporting Waste, Fraud & Abuse Now Available

Press Release from the Office of Tennessee State Comptroller Justin P. Wilson, Jan. 3, 2013:

Comptroller Announces New Online Tool for Reporting Fraud, Waste and Abuse

It will soon be possible to report suspected cases of fraud, waste and abuse of public funds in Tennessee over the Internet. Beginning today, you may electronically alert the state Comptroller’s office about suspected government misuse of public funds by visiting: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/shared/safwa.asp

The Comptroller’s office has provided a toll-free telephone hotline for reporting fraud, waste and abuse of government funds and property since 1983. During that time, the hotline has received more than 17,000 calls.

In the 2012 legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly expanded the Advocacy for Honest and Appropriate Government Spending Act so government employees and citizens can report allegations of fraud, waste and abuse online as well.

“In this day and age, it makes sense to give people the option to send us fraud reports online,” Comptroller Wilson said. “This is another tool to help ensure that public money is being spent properly in Tennessee. I encourage people to take advantage of this new service if they have reason to suspect fraud, waste or abuse has occurred.”

Similar to the telephone hotline, the online reporting form will allow individuals to make reports anonymously if they wish. The information will be transmitted to the Comptroller’s office over a secure connection.

Individuals who make reports are asked to provide as much detail as possible about their allegations. They may also attach files with supporting documentation that may help those who review the allegations.

Information received over the Internet will be reviewed by the Comptroller’s staff and investigated or referred to the appropriate agencies or departments when warranted.

 

TCPR: An Idea a Day to Keep Big Government at Bay

Press release from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, 12 Jan. 2010:

Forty-five legislative ideas for a prosperous Tennessee

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Center for Policy Research today made available in electronic version its most recent publication, An Idea a Day: 45 Ideas for a Prosperous Tennessee. The pamphlet offers one innovative free market idea for each remaining legislative day of the 106th General Assembly. Each idea is surmised in one brief sentence, followed by a link to original work published by TCPR on the issue.

Hardcopies of the pamphlet were provided to each member of the General Assembly last week. The electronic is now available to members and their staff as the Legislature embarks on the second session of the 106th General Assembly.

“When lawmakers look for solutions that will expand individual liberty, return taxpayers’ hard-earned money to their pockets, and reduce the size and scope of government, they now have a place to turn,” said Justin Owen, Director of Policy at TCPR. “We hope members of the General Assembly utilize this simple, concise resource as they conduct the people’s business.”

The pamphlet offers solutions in each of the following policy areas:

  • Budget
  • Education
  • Government Reform
  • Government Waste
  • Healthcare
  • Property Rights
  • Regulation
  • Taxation
  • Technology
  • Transparency
  • Transportation

The electronic version of An Idea a Day, complete with links to original TCPR work on the ideas offered, can be viewed by clicking here.