President Donald Trump's formal declaration last week that the opioid epidemic is a public health emergency was light on details for the path forward. Nonetheless, the healthcare industry anticipates Trump's special commission will shed more light with its final set of policy recommendations, including ideas for improved coordination between federal agencies.
The Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis is slated to release its final report Nov. 1, roughly seven months after the panel was formed to identify effective solutions to the opioid abuse epidemic. In a preliminary report released in July, the panel recommended Trump declare the opioid crisis a national emergency under the Stafford Act in order to expedite the distribution of billions of dollars in disaster relief aid to communities across the country.
Instead, Trump decided to make the declaration under the Public Health Services Act, where the response will be led mostly by HHS. That decision drew criticism from addiction medicine experts who expressed disappointment that the president opted for a narrower response. They also expressed concern over the declaration's omission of any new funding for the effort, instead calling for a re-direction of existing resources.
"Some of the things they are recommending are common sense but very, very important," Trump said last week talking about the opioid panel's recommendations. "They are going to have a tremendous impact, believe me."
Cynthia Reilly, director of the Pew Charitable Trusts' Substance Use Prevention and Treatment Initiative, said Trump's declaration and release of the commission's report could have been better coordinated, but she's hopeful that the two announcements will spur greater collaboration at the federal level.
"It certainly sets the stage to implement recommendations that might be taken up after the commission releases its report," Reilly said.