Trump Administration Creates Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis

We are encouraged by the Trump Administration’s announcement yesterday on the creation of the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis aimed at addressing the nation’s growing opioid epidemic. In 2015, opioid overdoses claimed the lives of more than 33,000 Americans. We must tackle this epidemic with a full commitment to evidence-supported treatment.

However, the Administration’s plan to gut Medicaid (the primary payer in the U.S. for substance use and mental health treatment) by $880 billion over the next ten years, along with its proposal to cut $5.8 billion from the National Institute of Health (the federal agency charged with research on new treatment approaches), hardly squares with a commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic. An estimated 24 million Americans would lose healthcare coverage (and access to substance use treatment) under the Administration’s recent push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

We urge the Commission to build upon the bipartisan support for the 21st Century Cures Act which was signed into law last year to strengthen research on innovative and evidence-based therapies and treatments. We also invite the Commission to work from the Surgeon General’s most recent report, which explores in detail substance use and addiction in America and what can be done in policy and practice to address it. And lastly, we call upon the Administration to appoint a director to lead the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy, a critical partner to the Commission as it embarks on its charge.

While we are encouraged by the President’s willingness to establish a commission dedicated to addressing the opioid epidemic, in order to make a real difference the Administration must also demonstrate its commitment to access to health coverage and evidence-supported treatment for the millions of people across our country living with an opioid addiction.

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