The week started with the President in New Hampshire announcing his opioid abuse reduction plan and ended with Congress acting in a much bolder funding proposal. The President’s plan was thin on specifics but included a broad outline that included broad strokes of:
• REDUCE DEMAND AND OVER-PRESCRIPTION: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will educate Americans about the dangers of opioid and other drug use and seek to curb over-prescription.
• CUT OFF THE SUPPLY OF ILLICIT DRUGS: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will crack down on international and domestic illicit drug supply chains devastating American communities:
• HELP THOSE STRUGGLING WITH ADDICTION: President Trump’s Opioid Initiative will help those struggling with addiction through evidence-based treatment and recovery support services.
The Congressional response includes several increases and provisions that add some actual dollars to address the issue. Some, like the child welfare spending increases have a dual purpose with part of the purpose being addressing increase impact of opioids use and addiction. Congress adds in an additional $1 billion to the current $500 million increase in treatment funds that was part of a two-year deal enacted in 2016. Part of this $ 1 billion is for a 15 percent set-aside for states with the highest age-adjusted mortality rate related to opioid use disorders. This is an attempt to go beyond current funding formulas that may have ignored some of the hardest-hit states as far as increased opioid addiction. It may help address recent reports that a big amount of earlier $500 million in funding has been left on the table because state have had difficulty in getting providers to commit to services with funding that would expire in a few months. Also included in this funding is a $50 million set aside for Indian Tribes and Tribal organizations.
Other funding includes $475 million for “prevention” activities through the CDC. That generally refers to monitoring and it represents an increase of $350 million. There is also $250 million more for the National Institute on Drug Abuse for opioid research including alternate pain relief strategies. There is also $84 million through SAMSHA for Medication-Assisted Treatment (MATs) for opioids with $5 million for Tribes.