opioid commission Archives -
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President Trump Plans Huge Cuts to Office of National Drug Control Policy

President Trump Plans Huge Cuts to Office of National Drug Control Policy

For the last few years federal politicians, local officials, and addiction advocates have spoken a great deal about the critical condition of the opioid crisis in America. Just a few months ago President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, and his administration had created a special White House Opioid Commission to do extensive research and community outreach to try and better understand the problem and offer possible solutions.

Now recent reports state that President Donald Trump is actually planning to cut the budget of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) just happens to be the top office responsible for coordinating the federal response to the opioid crisis. This plan is being noted as his administration’s second attempt to gut the ONDCP, so how would this change the current system?

What is the Plan?

So what does this mean? If President Trump were to go forward with this proposal, it would shift the office’s two main grant programs. These are:

  • The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas grant
  • The Drug Free Communities Act

According to POLITICO, multiple sources in the administration and others working with the government on the opioid crisis said those resources would then be given respectively to:

  • The Justice Department
  • Health and Human Services Department

According to a document from the Office of Management and Budget, this proposal would cut 95% of the ONDCP’s budget. Officials in President Trumps administration say that the approximately $340 million in grants will be administered by larger agencies. But the ONDCP will still serve as the White House’s drug policy shop. But the ONDCP will still be the main resource for President Trump for drug policy.

According to the proposal, President Trump and his administration believe these programs are just duplicates of other initiatives. This cut would also result in the ONDCP losing up to 33 employees. Skeptics say taking these resources leaves the policy office with little power or purpose.

Some Support President Trump Plan

Not everyone believes this is a bad idea. Some advocacy organizations are cautiously optimistic that changes to the ONDCP could actually end up being a good thing. One of them is the Drug Policy Alliance. They believe the opioid epidemic has continued to get worse under the ONDCP, and that maybe a shift in perspective is necessary to make a difference.

Grant Smith, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance states,

 “The reality is that ONDCP is an agency in dire need of reform,”

Smith believes that the particular grant programs mentioned previously “are a phenomenal waste of money that contribute to the incarceration and stigmatization of drug users.”

They are also afraid President Trump would use a more powerful Drug Czar to aggressively treat drug abuse as a criminal justice issue rather than as a public health problem. If so, it might be a good idea to take the power of these grants out of the executive branch’s control.

Some believe the ONDCP won’t be particularly helpful for the future of drug policy due to some of the organizations part positions, such as denying medical use of marijuana or encouraging the expansion of workplace drug testing. There have been stories questioning the 24-year-old deputy chief of staff President Trump appointed to head the ONDCP. Some see having an individual with no drug policy experience running this important agency as an indication of inconsistnecy.

Supporters of moving the grants and cutting the ONDCP say it would decrease overlap since the DOJ already works on drug trafficking and HHS also has substance use prevention. This may not be the worst assumption either, considering that President Trump and his administration have touted a law-and-order approach that has many concerned about further stigmatizing and punishing those in need of help.

An OMB spokesperson stated,

“DOJ and HHS are both major grant management organizations that can look holistically at allocations across law enforcement and drug prevention and treatment resources.”

So some are hopeful it could just put the grants under a different roof. But critics say these programs are working, and it is hazardous to try and dramatically restructure them at such a desperate time.

Other Republicans Rebuke the Plan

Health policy experts, lawmakers, and even fellow Republicans are unhappy with this latest proposal. Some even say this is just one example of a series of actions showing that President Trump’s administration isn’t serious about addressing the opioid epidemic.

Last year the White House Office of Management and Budget proposed completely cutting these grants. However, that proposal was met with intense resistance from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers. Now, health experts and officials from both sides are speaking out against this plan. Regina LaBelle, who served as ONDCP Chief of Staff during the Obama administration, states:

“I’m baffled at the idea of cutting the office or reducing it significantly and taking away its programs in the middle of an epidemic,”

Many are already expecting lawmakers to push back again against this plan from President Trump.

Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito from West Virginia, a state ravaged by opioids, told POLITICO she will “resist that move”. Capito also says she believes the grants should be kept at ONDCP. This would keep them within the executive branch and under the president’s purview.

Republican Senator Rob Portman from Ohio, another state that has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, said he also plans to fight back against the proposed cuts. Portman says the anti-drug programs the administration wants to cut have done an immense amount of good in Ohio.

Going Against Opioid Commission

President Trump established the White House Opioid Commission to make recommendations on addressing the opioid crisis. Now even advisors on this panel are saying this new move goes against the opioid commission’s recommendations.

Former Representative Patrick Kennedy, a member of the opioid advisory commission, said the panel advised President Trump to fortify the ONDCP, not defund it. The opioid commission had also endorsed both of these grants as crucial to overall response efforts. Kennedy went on to say,

“It guts the two main purposes of ONDCP… It really undermines the mission.”

So there are those that think changing the ONDCP could be a necessary sacrifice to make progress. However, others are concerned that it is not the right move, and definitely not the right time.

We should note that the proposal from President Trump is subject to change. There is still more time to learn about how moving money from the Office of National Drug Control Policy could impact the governments work against the opioid crisis. Could this change refine the process of accessing these grants? Or could it cripple an important agency for fighting addiction during of one of the country’s worst drug outbreaks? Hopefully, these changes can be managed in a way that creates new opportunities instead of removing them.

Providing support and life-saving resources is vital to overcoming addiction. Every day people are struggling with drug or alcohol use disorders, and some of them never find the help they need. Safe and effective addiction treatment is one of the best tools we have. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Opioid Commission Demands Insurance Companies Cover Treatment

Opioid Commission Demands Insurance Companies Cover Treatment

If that headline seems kind of confusing, don’t worry, it should. Technically insurance companies are already required by law to provide the same coverage for substance abuse and mental health that they do for other health conditions… and therein lies the issue.

Back in August the White House Opioid Commission, established by President Trump and led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, made several recommendations to the current administration about how to address the current drug crisis as it damages communities across the country. One of those recommendations was to declare a national emergency, while others had to do with options for prevention and education.

In the aftermath of ex-DEA agent Joe Rannazzisi’s eye-opening interview exposing the shady connections between Congress and Big Pharma companies, many have been looking closely at how government officials and multi-billion dollar empires helped create the opioid epidemic. Now the White House’s Opioid Commission is putting a focus on how health insurance companies and the flaws in their policies have contributed to the intensifying addiction crisis.

So with the opioid commission saying they will call-out insurers and make demands on coverage for addiction treatment, will more people have access to help?

Restricted Addiction Treatment

One of the biggest issues the opioid commission seems to have with insurance companies is that frequently their policies only cover one type of addiction treatment and not others. It seems insurance companies are convinced that with a complex and extremely personal issue like substance use disorder or mental health conditions, there is a one-size-fits-all answer. Sadly, most advocates can tell you this isn’t the case.

Something else especially frustrating is that laws already exist to prevent insurers from treating addiction treatment different than any other health issue. Chris Christie himself said,

“Why are we still not seeing addiction services covered, and mental health services covered as broadly as every other type of disease?”

“And what do we need to do to make sure that the law is enforced and followed?”

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 requires health insurers to treat mental health and substance abuse disorders the same as any other disease. It means they should provide health care coverage for these conditions without additional limits, co-pays or deductibles. If companies add on additional requirements, it creates even more barriers between the suffering individual and treatment. Sadly, not every insurance company thinks it has to play by the rules.

A task force convened by President Barack Obama last year reported that numerous insurance companies still place a number of limits on addiction coverage, like more strict pre-authorization requirements. The insurance companies claim that their policies are only part of a complex problem, insisting that the issue also has to do with shortages of doctors and poor medical training from healthcare providers in the field of addiction treatment.

However, the simple fact that insurance companies are still trying to push back against supporting addiction treatment has the opioid commission ready to address the inconsistencies that are making it even harder for people who need help to get the help they deserve.

Holding Insurance Companies Accountable

The opioid commission is not holding back when it comes to trying to make insurance companies contribute to solutions since they helped contribute to the problem. The New Jersey Governor warned health insurance companies to be prepared for a final report that will “place new demands” on health insurance policies.

Christie and the opioid commission seem to be playing offense, saying Big Pharma drug companies and health insurers profit while allowing an epidemic of addiction to continue, but these new demands will hopefully change all that. Christie added,

“I’m a capitalist. I want everybody to make profits. I think it’s great. But we can’t any longer go about addressing this problem this way,”

“I hope you’re prepared to accept the challenge, because we know if it hasn’t gotten into your own house yet, it could, and then all the sudden your perspective on this problem could become markedly different.”

Not only is there more pressure on insurance companies when it comes to treatment options in their policies, but with how they handle medications in the first place.

Health insurance providers are also under a greater deal of scrutiny for policies that sometimes favor powerful and addictive painkillers over less addictive, and more expensive, variations. So not only are they limiting the options when it comes to getting treatment for substance abuse, but they are limiting coverage of medications to more addictive drugs to save money.

Insurance providers did show up to testify at the commission to help create a more comprehensive view of the issue. Involved were executives from some of the nation’s largest insurance companies:

  • Aetna
  • Anthem
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield
  • Cigna
  • Harvard Pilgrim Health Care
  • Kaiser Permanente
  • UnitedHealth Group
  • UPMC Health Plan

Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Oversight Committee, also has questions for many of those same companies. Some of these inquiries stem from a report by The New York Times last month stating insurance companies “erected more hurdles to approving addiction treatments than for the addictive substances themselves.”

Cummings wrote letters to seven of the companies which state,

“This is not a hypothetical problem. The over-prescription of opioids leads to addiction and death.”

The White House’s opioid commission has also spoken with leaders in the pharmaceutical industry. All this shows that the opioid commission is not only worried about exploring our options for fixing the issue but also in examining all the elements that helped cause the opioid epidemic in America. Christie says the final report to President Trump will include sweeping recommendations but will also be “extraordinarily instructive in terms of how we got here, which is an important thing for this commission to acknowledge.”

The commission will hold its last meeting November 1st before delivering its final report to the President. Only time will tell what demands this report plans to place on insurance companies to provide more coverage for addiction treatment services.

Will Insurance Companies Change?

The big question becomes how will this impact the services offered by insurance companies. Will the opioid commission’s suggestions help shape new policies, or will some insurance companies continue to ignore the parity laws put in place to make sure they do not discriminate against the treatment of substance abuse?

Will these changes allow for the coverage of different innovative and holistic treatment options, or will the change only support programs that depend on maintenance drugs like methadone or Suboxone?

Hopefully, the new demands being put on insurance companies will help to support mental health and substance abuse parity. When it comes to addressing addiction in America, we need every resource we can get in order to move forward with overcoming the opioid epidemic. With more officials taking a closer look at every aspect of the issue, perhaps we can get a more effective strategy for addressing the problem.

With so many people struggling with opioids and other drugs across the country, comprehensive and effective treatment is essential to making any real progress. For decades Palm Healthcare Company facilities have been providing holistic addiction treatment options that help create lasting change. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

American Opioid Commission Calls for State of Emergency

 American Opioid Commission Calls for State of Emergency

America knows all too well the devastation of opioid addiction. With an overdose outbreak that has been progressively damaging and related death rates becoming increasingly alarming, we have reached new depths of drug-induced desperation. Therefore, the news from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is not all that shocking. The panel charged with examining the nation’s opioid epidemic is now urging the President to declare a national public health emergency to combat the ongoing crisis.

When we look at the history of American presidents announcing a ‘state of emergency’ it typically has to do with national security, foreign policy and war, or natural disasters and viral illness. So, to put the issue of addiction up next to these drastic calls to action might just bring a new level of intensity to battling opioid addiction in America.

American overdose deaths involving opioids have quadrupled since 1999. From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses. The majority of these overdose deaths have opioids involved.

In America, drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined.

Opioid Commission Calls for Action

The Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was enlisted as the chair of the opioid commission back in March. The opioid commission also includes:

  • Democrat Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina
  • Former Democratic Representative Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island
  • Republican Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts

At the time the commission was created Chris Christie said the idea behind the administration’s new approach to fighting addiction would focus a lot on assisting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This week the opioid commission’s statement calling for the President’s immediate action states:

“Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency.”

While insisting that the administration put forth an emergency declaration, the specially appointed opioid commission said that Trump is the-

“-only person who can bring this type of intensity to the emergency and we believe you have the will to do so and to do so immediately.”

The opioid commission was deliberate in the details, acknowledging that with 142 Americans dying every day from drug overdoses-

“America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

When you think about it in this context, the statistics become even more startling and horrifying. The fact that so many men, women and even children in America are losing their lives to drugs like heroin and prescription pain medication. The opioid commission went on to say:

“Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the Executive Branch even further to deal with this loss of life,”

“It would also awaken every American to this simple fact: If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

In the last few months there has been some waves of criticism against the opioid commission after missing two deadlines to release this report in June and July. Now that the report is finally here, what can be done to address the concerns the opioid commission brings with it?

Will the White House Take Action?

According to initial reports the White House intends to “immediately” review the recommendations of the opioid commission. In the statement from the White House:

“The opioid crisis is a tragedy that has been harming America’s communities for far too long. We appreciate the Commission’s hard work on this important interim report. We will immediately begin reviewing its recommendations, and eagerly await its final report.”

The final report from the opioid commission is expected to be submitted during October. Still, many are hoping the Trump administration does not wait that long to start planning for a response.

The opioid commission made many recommendations in the interim report for efforts to curb the opioid epidemic and the increasingly high death rates. Those recommendations include:

  • Rapidly increase treatment capacity for those who need substance abuse help
  • Establish and fund better access to medication-assisted treatment programs
  • Make sure that health care providers are aware of the potential for misuse and abuse of prescription opioids by enhancing prevention efforts at medical and dental schools
  • Equipping all law enforcement in the United States with naloxone to save lives

Naloxone is the opioid overdose antidote used by first responders to save people overdose victims. So far access to Naloxone and Narcan, the name brand, has expanded, but many think not nearly enough.

With the fight for healthcare in Congress seeming to hit every rough patch possible on the road to settling on legislation, people are already worried about how coverage may or may not change for tens of millions of Americans. So the concern for how to face a growing addiction problem while simultaneously afflicted with a potential healthcare crisis is very real for a lot of people.

Time will tell if the Trump administration acts on the suggestion to declare a state of emergency to call more action toward the opioid epidemic. And if they do declare it, what will change?

Palm Healthcare Company Offering Holistic Health

While Palm Healthcare Company is not qualified to fix all the problems in politics, we do believe in providing quality care to as many men and women struggling as possible. Palm Healthcare Company facilities create a safe, comfortable and effective environment to experience powerful and life-changing courses and treatments focused on holistic health.

While the opioid epidemic may not be an easy issue to solve, Palm Healthcare Company believes in helping those who have suffered from addiction to opioids and/or other drugs find a new way and a second chance. With medical detox, personalized inpatient and outpatient treatment options and aftercare opportunities such as Recovery Coaching, Palm Healthcare Company wants to support every part of your journey.

Overcoming the opioid epidemic means helping those who have suffered heal.

Drug abuse and addiction is a devastating and deadly disease, and providing effective and compassionate treatment makes a lifelong difference. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, think about who you want to be working with to find a real solution. Please call toll-free now.

CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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