Opioids are narcotic painkillers, and they include popular drugs with brand names like OxyContin, Vicodin, and Demerol. Heroin is another. And while the former have eased the pain of many, all of these drugs are potential killers. They're incredibly addictive. And prescription drug overdose deaths, according to what many health care providers and experts tell me, have reached epidemic status in Rhode Island.
You may have heard news yesterday that the federal government has released a greater level of detail on the prices hospitals charge for a list of common procedures and how widely those prices vary - not only from state to state but within states, and even within the same city. The data comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS), from 3000 hospitals nationwide.
In last night's State of the Union address, President Barack Obama mentioned health care five times (by my count). One, later in the address, referred to making sure military veterans get the mental health care they need. The other mentions had to do with Medicare: as the nation ages, it's the biggest contributor to our nation's deficit.