White House Opioid Commission Submits Its Final Report

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Here are some of its recommendations that will matter most for state and local governments.

The White House’s commission on combating drug addiction and the opioid crisis on Wednesday released its final report and full list of 56 recommendations, including the formation of a nationwide network of drug courts, new requirements for prescribers and a beefing up of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs across the country.

The future of these measures, in terms of funding and implementation, will depend on the willingness of Congress, action from a number of key federal agencies, as well as the cooperation of state and local governments.

The six members of the commission will meet Thursday afternoon to vote to approve the draft of the document.

Here are some of the commission’s recommendations that would most impact state and local governments:

Establishing a network of drug courts.

The commission, which is chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, calls for the establishment of drug courts in all 93 federal judicial districts—they currently exist in fewer than half of these jurisdictions—and recommends that state, local and tribal governments apply for drug court grants.

Getting naloxone to more first responders.

The report recommends that current guidelines for first responder administration of naloxone be reviewed to allow more categories of first responder to be allowed to administer the overdose reversing medication. Currently, some states prohibit certain types of first responders from administering the drug.

Prioritizing a coordinated federal-state partnership.

According to the report, staff members from nearly every governor’s office “expressed concern at how addiction and opioid-related funding coming from the federal government was fragmented; provided by many different agencies and funding sources which each had their own application requirements, reporting mechanisms and preferred outcomes.”

The commission proposes establishing a system for disbursing federal money that would resemble the process for applying for a block grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Importantly, there would only be a single application. According to the commission’s report, the block-granting of this funding was a request from nearly every governor, “regardless of party, across the country.”

Enforcing parity.

The commission recommends a streamlining of methods for state and federal regulators to ensure health providers’ are complying with parity rules. These rules mandate that providers pay for and provide behavioral health services at the same levels as other health needs.

Improving data collection.

According to the commission there is “variability in the way key indicators are defined, collected, and reported across states making it difficult to monitor and assess regional and national trends.” The report therefore recommends that the federal government establish and enforce rigorous drug testing procedures, forensic and toxicology methods for medical examiners around the country.

Beefing up Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.

The commission is encouraging the Trump administration support the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which requires that states that receive federal grant funding comply with the its PDMP mandates which include data sharing as part of a national data up to be established and maintained by the Department of Justice.

The commission also recommends that this PDMP data be integrated with electronic health records.

Read the full report here.

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