Danya Institute Inc.

White House Panel Recommends Declaring National Emergency on Opioids

From the New York Times. Click here to view the entire article.

By Abby Goodnough

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis asked him Monday to declare a national emergency to deal with the epidemic.

The members of the bipartisan panel called the request their “first and most urgent recommendation.”

Mr. Trump created the commission in March, appointing Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to lead it. The panel held its first public meeting last month and was supposed to issue an interim report shortly afterward but delayed doing so until now. A final report is due in October.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to Sept. 11 every three weeks,” the commission members wrote, referring to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life.”

In addition to seeking an emergency declaration, the commission proposed waiving a federal rule that sharply limits the number of Medicaid recipients who can receive residential addiction treatment.

It also called for expanding access to medications that help treat opioid addiction, requiring “prescriber education initiatives” and providing model legislation for states to allow a standing order for anyone to receive naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.

Some public health experts said the main effect of declaring an emergency would be to make Americans regard the epidemic more urgently.

“It’s really about drawing attention to the issue and pushing for all hands on deck,” said Michael Fraser, the executive director of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials. “It would allow a level of attention and coordination that the federal agencies might not otherwise have, but in terms of day-to-day lifesaving, I don’t think it would make much difference.”

The governors of Arizona, Florida, Maryland and Virginia have declared states of emergency regarding the opioid addiction crisis; in Alaska, Gov. Bill Walker has issued a disaster declaration.