The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, also known colloquially as the White House Addiction Commission, was established in late March via Executive Order by the President. On Monday, the Commissiona announced requested initiatives to help curb the growing addiction. According to the CDC, approximately 142 Americans die from the opioid epidemic every day.
The Commission, chaired by Governor Chris Christie, made several recommendations to help turn the tide of the deadly opioid epidemic that has been sweeping the country for the past several years. Included in their request was to grant Medicaid waivers to every state for drug treatment, reducing the barriers for low-income people with substance abuse disorders. The Commission also wants to force all DEA-approved doctors to take substantive classes in addiction and pain management prior to finishing medical school. Other recommendations from the Commission included:
- Increase the availability of Medication-Assisted Treatment, and require via an Executive order that facilities that offer this type of treatment offer every type of medication available to help improve outcomes.
- Provide model legislation to all states to allow naloxone dispensing via standing orders, eliminating barriers often faced by first responders and law enforcement when they run out of the life-saving drug. (Naloxone is an opioid antagonist used to reverse the effects of opioids when an overdose is suspected.)
- Develop fentanyl detection sensors for the use of federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and support the use of them via the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to stem the flow of drugs from China and other foreign entities.
- Provide data-sharing prescribing information ability for the purpose of monitoring the flow of prescription opioids on an interstate level, and to monitor when a patient is doctor-shopping or receiving multiple prescriptions from multiple physicians.
- Allow better sharing of information on patients with substance abuse disorders while maintaining privacy according to HIPAA law.
- Enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) so that insurers will treat substance abuse treatment services the same as any disease treatment and cannot deny much-needed benefits.
- Implement a variety of educational and preventative tools such as PSA’s and public school programs with a focus on prevention.
Finally, the Addiction Commission has requested that President Trump declare a nationwide State of Emergency in response to the deadly epidemic that takes lives every day, from all walks of life. This declaration would be used to free up funds and deliver them to states with lower budgets in desperate need of more treatment center beds and medication-assisted treatments, allowing them to divert these federal funds to where they are needed most right now. You can find more recommendations from the Commission in their interim report here.