A task force made up of Missouri lawmakers is back to work to come up with ways to battle drug abuse. It plans to hold monthly meetings to continue its work from last year.

Missouri’s substance use disorder problem is bigger than any one state department. That’s according to Todd Richardson, Missouri’s Medicaid program director, who is helping a task force of lawmakers address the ongoing issue.

“I think it is incredibly important that the departments continue to collaborate in this space and to make sure that our policies are complimentary of each other,” he said.

Richardson explained that the division is responsible for paying medical claims and making services available, rather than on prevention specifically.

“There’s not going to be one answer to the question of how we improve substance use disorder rates in Missouri,” he said. “There’s not going to be one treatment protocol. There’s not going to be one provider type. There’s not going to be one, you know, state department that deals with it.”

He thinks that the task force should prioritize working with other state departments to research solutions and work on legislation to reach those goals.

“My recommendation to the committee would be to try to continue to support and encourage that collaboration, but it’s not to say that I don’t think that the model of having a single person, or a czar couldn’t work as well,” he told the task force.

CDC data shows that nearly 2,200 Missourians died of a drug overdose in 2021 and 2022, most involved non-heroin opioids.

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