Ohio State Senator Joe Schiavoni

State Senator Joe Schiavoni’s office submitted these responses to the American Opioid Podcast on 11/5/2018 12:44:41 PM. As of Spring 2019, Joe Schiavoni has wrapped up his second term in the Ohio State Senate and is now running for Governor of Ohio. You can find out more about his platform here

What district of Ohio do you represent?


District 33


Briefly, how would you describe the opioid crisis in your state?


We have a crisis in our State. According to the CDC, on average 14 Ohioans die daily from this epidemic.


What are the two or three most significant bills that have been introduced in your chamber to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state?


I would have to say that the Medicaid expansion has been the most significant step the State has taken in alleviating this epidemic. The increased access to care has made it possible for the expansion population to access treatment. According to the Department of Medicaid, One in ten (9.8%) Group VIII enrollees received a primary diagnosis for any substance use disorder and 7.9% received a primary diagnosis for opioid use disorder in 2017.

There are a few bills that have help maintain the expansion over the years as the Republic party has tried numerous times to either get rid of the expansion in our State or to freeze enrollment. The last failed attempt was during this year’s budget (HB49) when the governor vetoed the enrollment freeze. It is rumored that they may try and override that veto in lame duck session and if that happens a lot of people would lose their access to not only treatment for addiction but medical care.

I introduced SB154 back in May of 2017, which would give local governments more resources and flexibility to address the epidemic in a way that fits their individual needs. In one county they may need more recovery beds and in another they may need more funding for ADAMS boards.

I also think HB 523, which legalized medical marijuana in our State, will have a positive impact on the epidemic. The program is currently still in the implementation process but once it is up and running, I hope we will see more chronic pain patients turning to marijuana instead of opioids.


What was your involvement, if any, in those bills (e.g., introduction, advocacy, vote pledge)?


I am the sponsor of SB154 and I co-sponsored and voted for the passage of HB523. I have spent a lot of time working to maintain medicaid expansion and I will continue to do that if Republicans keep trying to take it away. The Ohio Senate Democratic caucus even presented an alternative budget in 2017 to maintain expansion and other social services.


Have any of the bills passed? If not, why?


HB523 went into effect in September of 2016. SB154 has not passed yet and it has actually only had one hearing for sponsor testimony. I can not really speak to why it has not had more hearings because the Majority makes those decisions and as a Democrat, I am not part of those conversations. One reason I have heard is that it would use a portion of the rainy day fund and the Governor has said he does not support using the fund.


What was the most memorable experience you had while learning about the opioid crisis in your state?


While traveling the State, I visited a facility called "the Hive" in Nelsonville, Ohio. They provide services outside of school hours to children, and the family members that are taking care of them, while the parents are in rehab. It was shocking to see how far reaching the effects of this epidemic really are. In most cases it was grandparents taking care of these young children and they can only do so much. It was truly heart breaking to see so many families affected and that was just in one town.


If you had a magic wand that allowed you to pass any legislation you wanted in order to help alleviate the opioid crisis in your state, what would that legislation look like?


If I had a magic wand, I would pass SB154. I chose to introduce this bill because I heard from counties about what they truly felt they needed. The only thing I would change if I had magic is to put more funding behind it.