Trying to lay out a coherent approach to deal with Kentucky's plague of drug abuse and addiction without touting the Affordable Care Act is like explaining Keeneland without mentioning horse races.
You can offer some details and useful recommendations (such as the gorgeous grounds and corned beef sandwiches) while completely missing the big picture.
Missing the big picture is what Kentucky's competitors for U.S. Senate are doing as they try to win votes on the drug-abuse issue.
Give Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes credit for at least mentioning the importance of preserving payment for drug treatment through the Affordable Care Act as part of a three-pronged platform for combating drug abuse that she released last week.
Republican Mitch McConnell, his party's leader in the Senate, has said time and again that he wants to repeal "root and branch" the law that he calls Obamacare, even though it finally will provide Kentucky something it desperately needs: a funding stream for drug treatment and rehab.
McConnell has tried to pretend that the state could somehow by itself preserve coverage for the 521,000 Kentuckians who are now insured through Kynect, the health insurance exchange created by the Affordable Care Act.
Of course, as McConnell well knows, Kentucky could not possibly keep up the coverage without the increased funding from the federal government and changes Congress made to laws governing the insurance industry.
Most important when talking about the drug scourge is the inclusion of mental health and substance use disorders among essential health benefits. As a result, health insurance sold on Kynect and other insurance exchanges must cover drug treatment. Also, Kentucky had to make drug treatment a standard Medicaid benefit as a condition for expanding that program.
What this means is that for the first time, nonprofits and other providers will be able to afford to build treatment facilities, both residential and outpatient, knowing they will be reimbursed for the services.
If the law is allowed to work as envisioned, Kentuckians who are ready to commit to treatment no longer will be consigned to a long waiting list that pretty much guarantees they'll be using again before their names come up.
Also, because of the law that McConnell wants to repeal, health plans must cover preventive services like depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children at no cost, and no longer may deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition such as mental illness.
More money to police the illicit drug trade, which McConnell and Grimes support, isn't necessarily a bad thing, though we know from long experience that Kentucky cannot police its way out of its drug problem.
The expansion of treatment for users and addicts through the Affordable Care Act could make a real difference. Too bad more politicians aren't talking about that.