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How much does a life cost? Financial crisis comes with opioid epidemic

LA PORTE, Ind. -- How much should a city spend to save a life? An Ohio city councilman is in the spotlight after revealing a three-strike plan.  A plan that has La Porte county and city officials thinking twice. 

Just how much does a life cost? 

For the city of Middletown, Ohio, it's costing millions to treat overdose victims.

A councilman there, Dan Picard, came up with an idea to cut down those costs. 

"This year, we're in line to spend over $2 million dollars on overdoses,"  he says. 

The first two overdose calls, will land the patient with community service to "pay back" the cost to the city. 

But the third time?

"If it was determined that John Smith did not show up to court, complete his community service, or cooperate with the city, then we wouldn't dispatch," Picard explains.

He has his reasons.

"My goal, quite frankly, was to scare people. To let people know if you come to Middletown and you have an overdose, there's a possibility that we may not treat you," he adds. 

A drastic measure that he says is necessary. 

"At this rate that we're spending money on overdoses, we're going to go bankrupt really fast," Picard says. 

About four hours northwest, La Porte County is also facing some hard truths. 

In 2016, there were 253 Narcan doses administered. 

So far in 2017, there have been 125 total Narcan doses used. 

At nearly thirty dollars a dose, it's a financial strain that adds up quickly. 

But it's not to the point where county and city officials feel comfortable making the same call as Picard.

"We're not there to decide who lives or dies. We're there to respond and provide care, no matter what it takes," says Andrew McGuire, with  La Porte County EMS 

McGuire tells ABC57, the best plan of action in the county is to offer more treatment, to make sure overdoses don't happen in the first place. 

Miles Fettinger, a city councilman in Laporte, agrees. 

"Narcan is expensive and I'm actually thinking of an ordinance here in Laporte to be a circuit breaker when Narcan is issued," he explains. 

That idea is only in its planning stages, but it could offer a long term solution.

"I think we can make a bigger impact by breaking the cycle. In the long run, it's going to save us so much money," says Fettinger. "Who decides who lives and who dies?"

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