COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Toledo) Blade, July 8
Painkillers have become a prescription for addiction for millions of Americans. In this evolving epidemic, death rates from overdoses are rising much faster for women than they are for men, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.
Today, more women die from overdoses of prescription painkillers than from cervical cancer or homicide. The opioid epidemic has hit white women — many from rural areas such as Appalachian Ohio — harder than black women, and older women more than younger ones.
To alleviate this problem, public health programs must take addiction to drugs that have legitimate medical uses as seriously as the abuse of street drugs such as heroin, which affects the same pain receptors in the brain as painkillers do.
(I)n Ohio and the rest of the country, the costs of addiction are high, including severe depression, painful withdrawal symptoms, and fatal overdoses. Every year, more than 1 million Americans land in emergency rooms because of prescription drug abuse; the problem has grown steadily since 2004....
Despite the alarming statistics, many Americans, especially teenagers, still believe prescription drugs are relatively harmless. Any effective anti-abuse program must start with public education and adequate treatment. Doctors must get better educated about the addictive potential of the drugs they prescribe...
Prescription painkillers have eased an enormous amount of pain for millions of Americans. But raising awareness about their dangers must become a far higher priority for local, state, and federal governments. If not, millions more, including a growing number of women, will feel the pain of addiction.
Online: http://bit.ly/16iBrhD .
Warren Tribune Chronicle, July 7
Since when does the U.S. State Department have any authority over environmental quality? Since President Barack Obama decided he, and he alone, has the right to make critical decisions for all Americans, that's when.
In a major speech recently, Obama vowed to establish new regulations on coal-fired power plants, in the name of fighting climate change. He admitted he decided to do so because Congress would not go along with his war on coal.
On a related issue, his administration's blocking of permits for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to bring Canadian oil to the U.S., Obama made it clear he has not been candid in the past.
Permits for the pipeline have been blocked by the State Department, with the White House insisting the agency — which is supposed to handle only diplomacy — is acting on its own initiative. Yet in his speech, Obama said he has instructed the State Department not to allow the pipeline if doing so would increase emissions of greenhouse gases.
Approval probably would mean fewer emissions than the alternative, shipping the Canadian oil to China. But that is not supposed to be a State Department concern.
In revealing his order, Obama has made it more clear than ever that in some ways, he intends his edicts to be the law.
That smacks of an imperial presidency — of the type against which our system of government is supposed to protect Americans.
The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, July 8
It is difficult enough for most people to send aged or infirm relatives to nursing homes when they believe good care will be provided. But the thought that frail elderly parents or incapacitated younger patients may be victims of neglect or active abuse is intolerable.
In Ohio, concern about that may be increasing — with good reason.
Attorney General Mike DeWine reports complaints about nursing home abuse and neglect have nearly doubled this year. His office's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit is investigating 131 cases, compared to 74 for the same period in 2012.
About half this year's complaints have been received last month, after DeWine announced his office will be aggressive in pursuing complaints of substandard nursing home care or abuse of patients.
DeWine — and those who place relatives or friends in nursing homes - have a new weapon to ensure quality care is provided. It was used earlier this year in Zanesville.
There, investigators placed surveillance cameras in the rooms of some patients, with their knowledge and that of families. Nursing home personnel were unaware they were being watched, however.
Videotape from some of the rooms revealed "absolutely shocking and disturbing" treatment of patients, DeWine said.
Most nursing homes and the dedicated personnel who staff them provide good care for patients. In many cases, it is not too much to say residents of nursing homes are treated lovingly.
That makes it especially upsetting that a few people in a handful of facilities are neglecting and/or abusing patients. DeWine should make it a top priority to find and punish those criminals.
The (Newark) Advocate, July 7
Anyone who has paid attention to the growing concerns about human trafficking, better described as modern-day slavery, probably wasn't surprised by recent discoveries of women being held against their will in Cleveland and Ashland.
In fact, the cases of a Cleveland man charged with holding three women captive in his home and raping them for about 10 years and four Ashland residents accused of forcing a 29-year-old woman with cognitive disabilities to perform manual labor inside their two-story home, aren't classic cases of human trafficking.
This crime can be even more sinister and widespread, with pimps literally selling women to one another for their sex businesses. Even worse, these crimes remain widely underreported...
Although a recent Ohio Attorney General's report found only 30 investigations into trafficking cases this past year, researchers believe more than 1,000 Ohio children alone are trafficked into the sex trade each year....
Residents often play huge roles in solving these crimes, which is why it's so critical for all of us to pay attention to our surroundings and report suspicious activity to police. You never know what's really happening in a home.
It's also incumbent upon state lawmakers to continue improving Ohio's laws so clearly criminal acts can be prosecuted properly....
Ohio finally made modern-day slavery illegal, with a law protecting child victims from being treated as prostitutes and increasing penalties for traffickers.
In June, the Ohio House unanimously passed a law making it easier to prosecute people who sell minors and developmentally disabled individuals for sex. That's a bill we hope the Senate will approve quickly during its next session.