Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Overdose deaths again deplete West Virginia's fund for indigent funerals

So many West Virginians are dying from drug overdoses that the state is again running out of money to pay for funerals of impoverished residents, reports The Associated Press. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources "sets aside about $2 million annually for burial costs for indigent people. Funeral homes are offered $1,250 to cover individual burial expenses for low-income people."

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Virginia had the nation's highest age-adjusted death rate for drug overdoses in 2014 and 2015, the last years for which rate have been computed.
 (Post graphic: Age-adjusted overdose rate 1999-2015)
A state spokesperson said funeral homes have sought payment for 1,508 funerals this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and funds remain for only 63 more, Christopher Ingraham reports for The Washington Post. The program began running out of money in 2014.

From 2007 to 2012, drug wholesalers shipped 780 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into West Virginia, where 1,728 residents fatally overdosed on the two painkillers, the Charleston Gazette-Mail reported in December. One problem is that little is done to report suspicious orders. From 2001 to June 2012 the pharmacy board received only two reports of suspicious orders.

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