Opi­oid panel’s re­port could boost co­or­di­na­tion ef­forts

Modern Healthcare - - The Week Ahead - —Steven Ross John­son

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s for­mal dec­la­ra­tion last week that the opi­oid epi­demic is a pub­lic health emer­gency was light on de­tails for the path for­ward.

None­the­less, the health­care in­dus­try an­tic­i­pates Trump’s spe­cial com­mis­sion will shed more light with its fi­nal set of pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions, in­clud­ing ideas for im­proved co­or­di­na­tion be­tween fed­eral agen­cies.

The Com­mis­sion on Com­bat­ing Drug Ad­dic­tion and the Opi­oid Cri­sis is slated to re­lease its fi­nal re­port Nov. 1, roughly seven months af­ter the panel was formed to iden­tify ef­fec­tive so­lu­tions to the opi­oid abuse epi­demic. In a pre­lim­i­nary re­port re­leased in July, the panel rec­om­mended Trump de­clare the opi­oid cri­sis a na­tional emer­gency un­der the Stafford Act in or­der to ex­pe­dite the dis­tri­bu­tion of bil­lions of dol­lars in dis­as­ter re­lief aid to com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try.

In­stead, Trump de­cided to make the dec­la­ra­tion un­der the Pub­lic Health Ser­vices Act, where the re­sponse will be led mostly by HHS. That de­ci­sion drew crit­i­cism from ad­dic­tion medicine ex­perts who ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment that the pres­i­dent opted for a nar­rower re­sponse. They also ex­pressed con­cern over the dec­la­ra­tion’s omis­sion of any new fund­ing for the ef­fort, in­stead call­ing for a re-di­rec­tion of ex­ist­ing re­sources.

“Some of the things they are rec­om­mend­ing are com­mon sense but very, very im­por­tant,” Trump said last week talk­ing about the opi­oid panel’s rec­om­men­da­tions. “They are go­ing to have a tremen­dous im­pact, be­lieve me.”

Cyn­thia Reilly, di­rec­tor of the Pew Char­i­ta­ble Trusts’ Sub­stance Use Pre­ven­tion and Treat­ment Ini­tia­tive, said Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion and re­lease of the com­mis­sion’s re­port could have been bet­ter co­or­di­nated, but she’s hope­ful that the two an­nounce­ments will spur greater col­lab­o­ra­tion at the fed­eral level.

“It cer­tainly sets the stage to im­ple­ment rec­om­men­da­tions that might be taken up af­ter the com­mis­sion re­leases its re­port,” Reilly said.


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