In the “Age of Trump” we should have seen this coming from a mile away. A Middletown, OH city council member, Dan Picard (who is set to retire soon), told a reporter for his local newspaper that because the town has been so overwhelmed by drug overdose emergencies that he is proposing a sort of “three-strikes penalty” for the city’s emergency medical services (EMS). After two previous intervention visits to the same person by EMS to revive them, they would not respond again — allowing the person to simply die.
While this might sound draconian, it’s not much different than what Republicans are attempting to push through the Senate. It’s just that their version of reduced medical services would take a bit longer to kill people. But make no mistake, they would eventually be just as dead.
Picard told the newspaper that arresting those who overdose on heroin or other drugs also adds to the problem by straining the city budget, jail and court system. So his solution is designed to save the strapped city money in that regard also. “John Smith obviously doesn’t care much about his life, but he’s expending a lot of resources and we can’t afford it,” Picard said.
City manager Douglas Adkin, however, said that “under state law when we are called to render aid, we generally have to treat whatever condition we encounter.” Additionally there is a state Good Samaritan Law, designed to encourage people to report overdoses, which prohibits police from arresting people onsite for the heroin-related activity, Adkins said.
But Adkins also said that he “understands the frustrations that prompted Picard’s proposal. Last month, a barefoot five-year-old boy walked two blocks to a relative’s house and announced that his parents were dead. Police say first responders rushed to the scene and revived the boy’s parents from heroin overdoses.”
A Middletown cop posted on his Facebook page that, “We are sick and tired of some people not caring about their kids enough to allow this to happen.”
“I’m not going to try to get into the moral implications of whether those laws are good or bad, they simply are the law in Ohio,” Adkins said. “What this means is that Middletown will spend about $1.5 million a year responding to and reacting to opioid addiction problems in the city. That’s money that could be spent on other priorities.”
No doubt others from the right end of the political spectrum feel the same way, viewing addiction as a moral failing, rather than a severe sickness. But under the new healthcare rules being proposed, even sicknesses — such as cancer — might eventually come to be viewed as too expensive to treat. While I know this sounds preposterous today, what about tomorrow?
The mean-spiritedness of the Middletown folks is this: Why didn’t they propose to simply give the Narcan (the drug that stops overdoses) to family members and other addicts so they could administer lifesaving aid themselves without calling EMS? So it’s not really about saving money, is it? They just want to see their fellow citizens die. Now that should be very frightening, but for too many Americans it’s not. We are living in dangerous times.
From CoolCleveland correspondent Mansfield B. Frazier mansfieldfATgmail.com. Frazier’s From Behind The Wall: Commentary on Crime, Punishment, Race and the Underclass by a Prison Inmate is available in hardback. Snag your copy and have it signed by the author at http://NeighborhoodSolutionsInc.com.