EDITORIAL Editorial voices from across the country

September 8, 2017
Jim McNutt/Observer-Reporter Exterior of the Observer-Reporter building in Washington.

Editorial voices from newspapers around the United States:

The Connecticut Post, Bridgeport, Conn.

The findings in a new report on the opioid crisis in Connecticut are chilling and are a call for action that is impossible to ignore.

Drug overdoses in the state are occurring at a pace pointing toward more than 1,000 deaths by the end of the year.

In the first six months of 2017, there were 539 drug intoxication deaths, according to a report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a rate that forecasts 1,078 by New Year’s Eve.

To put these numbers in some perspective, 1,078 would be an increase of more than 100 deaths over 2016 and more than triple the number of overdose deaths five years ago, when there were 357.

The scourge has scarred communities from Greenwich to Bridgeport to New Haven. Addiction can put a deadly grip on professionals of every stripe – physicians included; regular people hooked as the result of a legal prescription after an accident or surgery; experimenting teenagers; and on and on.

The key to the solution is a combination of education, treatment and enforcement. Youngsters, in particular, have to be taught early about the dangers of opioids and the insidious nature of addiction.

It seems learning has to happen all around.

Beaumont (Texas) Enterprise

The timing of hurricanes is never good, but Harvey’s disruption could create a second problem in Washington, D.C., later this month. The National Flood Insurance Program expires periodically and must be renewed by Sept. 30. Renewal is always difficult because the program is mired in debt, in part because of a classic Catch-22: Not enough people who should buy flood insurance do, thus raising premiums for those who do ... thereby making it less likely that more people will buy it.

Critics say the premiums are too low, which is often true. That can be remedied by increasing participation so that a majority, not a fraction, of homeowners who need it have it. One option is to make it mandatory for those who build or buy on property that is exceptionally vulnerable to flooding.

Congress also could reduce the 30-day period that must pass before new policies take effect. That goal is to prevent people from getting it just before a hurricane or river flood is forecast.

That’s understandable. But the waiting period could be reduced to a week or two with the understanding that the property owner must keep it for two or three years instead of just the standard one year.

Disasters like Harvey are going to strike our country periodically. Congress must make sure that more people have flood insurance when that happens.

Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is pushing for urgently needed legislation that would repair the ailing health insurance exchanges. The Tennessee Republican received a boost last week from Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and seven other governors, Democrats and Republicans. They provided a clear road map to the necessary fixes.

Kasich and colleagues know time is short. Insurers must finalize their plans for next year by the end of the month. Thus, they propose immediate steps to ease the uncertainty. They also outline adjustments designed to enhance the exchanges for the long term.

As it is, 1,400 counties have just one carrier available on the exchanges. The governors want Congress to set up incentives for insurers to enter underserved counties. They would like residents in these areas to have the option of buying into the federal health insurance program.

How unfortunate, then, that just as the governors unveiled their proposal, the Trump White House announced sharp reductions in programs to promote enrollment in the exchanges. Contrary to presidential claims, these initiatives have produced good results, when sufficiently backed, something the governors plainly realize.

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