Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Trump's Opioid Commission Finally Delivers

In a move that apparently shocked Kathryn Casteel at FiveThirtyEight, Trump's Opioid Commission did what public health experts recommended:
After missing its deadline twice, Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis on Monday presented an interim report of policy recommendations for handling the nation’s opioid epidemic. The commission’s preliminary recommendations are largely in line with those of many public health advocates: The report emphasizes treatment over law enforcement; backs the use of medical alternatives to heroin such as methadone; and makes no mention of Trump’s border wall, which the president has often touted as a way to stop the flow of drugs into the country. Perhaps most significantly, the commission called on the president to declare a national emergency under either the Public Service Health Act or Stafford Act. Doing so would give the government the power to respond more aggressively to the crisis, including by modifying requirements for health care programs like Medicaid and Medicare to make it easier for patients to seek treatment for addiction.
The report also emphasizes the need for better data, specifically better sharing of data, to combat "doctor shopping" and over-prescribing.

It's refreshing to read something thoughtful and relevant coming from an administration whose prior comments on the opioid addiction crisis were about border control with Mexico. It will be interesting to see how much they act on - such as whether Trump will agree to the recommendation of the federal government intervening on the price of treatments or whether Jeff Sessions will accept the recommendation of treatment over legal action (considering that he wants to go after anyone using marijuana, even for medical purposes).

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