Trump opioid panel ducks question of new money

President Donald Trump’s opioid commission will call Wednesday for big boosts in substance abuse treatment programs but stop short of asking for new funding that federal and state officials say is critical to pay for such programs.

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will recommend the Trump administration increase access to addiction treatment and recovery programs, expand the availability of medication-assisted therapies and expand first responders’ ability to administer the life-saving overdose reversal drug, naloxone, according to a draft of the commission’s final report obtained by POLITICO.

But the draft recommendations don’t include asking Congress to appropriate new dollars to tackle the crisis.

The commission’s final meeting and report come just one week after Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency — a move seen as a largely symbolic gesture that provided no new funding.

Administration officials have characterized the declaration as a jumping off point and said the president would incorporate recommendations from the commission. Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Elinore McCance-Katz told a congressional committee last week that the Trump administration was committed to “bringing everything to bear” to respond to the opioid epidemic.

While the panel acknowledges that lack of funding is the main barrier to implementation, it doesn’t lay out a figure, project how long money will be needed or where it should come from.

The report says, for example, the “principal factors” limiting the expansion of drug courts are insufficient funding, treatment and supervision resources, not a lack of interest.

It also emphasizes the need for “significant funding,” to increase the number of doctors trained in addiction medicine and to fund research on new pain, overdose reversal and addiction treatments.

The report also says federal funding is needed to help states share data from their prescription drug monitoring programs and recommends funding for a national media…


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