Last week the federal Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released their Interim Report. It’s just a 10 page report- so it’s not a huge commitment like most federal documents. The main recommendation is to declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.
Such a declaration would mobilize and provide the authority for federal agencies (e.g. HHS) to take additional policy steps to address the opioid epidemic and put pressure on Congress to focus on funding interventions. The recommendations range from wonky kinds of things like the Institutes for Mental Diseases exclusion in Medicaid programs to broader issues like medically assisted treatment to state-type issues like state Naloxone distribution laws. A final report is due later in the year.
The President and HHS Secretary talked about the report at a media conference Tuesday morning. The conference quickly turned to a discussion about North Korea. Sadly, the President and Secretary announced that they don’t intend to take the Commission’s advice and declare a national emergency.