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Does At-Large Councilmember Anita Bonds know what “public” means?


Patients who are struggling with opioid addiction are having to go without life-saving medication. A sudden change in DC Medicaid, health insurance for low-income people, has left patients going days without medication-assisted treatment, City Paper’s Josh Kaplan reports

DC Medicaid isn’t letting patients refill buprenorphine prescriptions early. Multiple treatment providers tell Kaplan they heard from DC Medicaid officials that it’s part of a new zero tolerance policy barring early refills. But the Department of Health Care Finance maintains it’s a systems error, not policy shift, that’s prohibited early refill of buprenorphine; it’s expected to be resolved by Tuesday. 

Peer-reviewed research says medications like buprenorphine and methadone can stop the cycle of opioid addiction. Various studies concluded that medication-assisted treatment can cut the all-cause mortality rate among patients by at least half. 

In 2017, D.C. experienced one of the highest death rates due to drug overdose nationwide, at 44.0 per 100,000. At first, Mayor Muriel Bowser was slow to address the crisis. But in December 2018, Bowser released an ambitious plan to cut opioid-related deaths by half by 2020. The fact that patients are being deterred from accessing addiction medication undermines the mayor’s efforts to combat the opioid crisis. 

“You have the Bowser administration saying that they’re on top of the opioid crisis. But these are the nitty-gritty details that determine if it works. These little changes … will result in more deaths,” says David Sternberg, HIPS’ clinical services manager. “The clock is ticking.”

Providers tell Kaplan they already know of several patients who are being denied routine treatment. And missed medication can hobble recovery efforts. Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com


  • Hundreds of students walked out of class as SCOTUS takes up DACA on Tuesday. [WCP]

  • DCPS graduation rate declines nearly 4 percent, to 65.1 percent. [Post

  • Anti-semitic Snapchat video at George Washington University. [Hatchet]

  • Off-duty officer shoots man and 17-year-old boy in Southeast. [NBC4]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Fallout from the investigation into Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans’ (alleged) misdeeds has revealed rifts among D.C. pols. [WCP]

  • Evans didn’t tell anyone he owned stock in a bank while pushing legislation that the bank favored. [Post]

  • The Council should not vote to expel Evans, the Post’s Colby King, writes. [Post]

  • Who joined Mayor Muriel Bowser on her trip to Ethiopia? [Twitter]

  • Bowser’s nice words for maybe-presidential-candidate Michael Bloomberg earned her a quick ratio. [DCist]  

  • The SEC is investigating Exelon’s lobbying activities in Illinois, and possibly elsewhere. [Twitter]

  • The longer Evans resists calls to step down, the greater the harm, writes Post reporter Robert McCartney. [Post]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Where to brunch today if you’re off. [DCist and Washingtonian]

  • Tom Sietsema tries Taim in Georgetown. [Post]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Maggie Paxson’s The Plateau tells the stories of an extraordinary French town whose inhabitants sheltered Jewish children during World War II. [WCP]

  • Mosaic Theater Company tackles cancel culture and college in Theory. [WCP]

  • Celebrate iconic astrologer Walter Mercado, who died earlier this month, at the National Portrait Gallery. [Washingtonian]

  • Some Loudoun County parents have a problem with LGBTQ books in their children’s classrooms. [Post

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Steven Goff of the Post reports that the Washington Spirit will split its home matches between the Maryland SoccerPlex, Audi Field, and Segra Field in Leesburg, Virginia, next year, with the team leaving the SoccerPlex entirely in 2021. [Post]

  • Rookie of the Year? Rui Hachimura, whose selection by the Wizards ninth overall drew mixed reviews, is getting plenty of praise for his play so far. [Bullets Forever]

  • World Cup champion Kelley O’Hara is officially a Washington Capitals fan and proved it by chugging a can of Bud Light. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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