Pubdate: Thu, 02 Nov 2017
Source: Hartford Courant (CT)
Copyright: 2017 The Hartford Courant
Author: Nicholas Rondinone


In an expansive report released Thursday that ranges from enforcement
to treatment and research, President Donald Trump's opioid commission
repeatedly discussed issues with funding to combat the deadly opioid

"The Commission urges Congress to respond to the President's
declaration of a public health emergency and fulfill their
constitutionally delegated duty and appropriate sufficient funds to
implement the Commission's recommendation," the Commission on
Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis wrote in the lengthy

This report comes about a week after Trump declared the epidemic a
public health emergency, falling short of calling it a national
emergency that would have allowed for more significant funding to be
diverted to combat the issue that has killed thousands in Connecticut

A member of the commission, Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy, brother
of State Sen. Ted Kennedy Jr., visited Connecticut this summer and
urged the need for a national emergency.

"If these were any other ... illness, we would call this for what it
is and that's a public health crisis," said Kennedy. "If these were
any other illnesses, we would be calling for the president to declare
a national state of emergency."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, has been vocal
in recent years about the need for funding to fight the opioid crisis.

"Patients and families who have lost loves ones to the opioid epidemic
need less talk and more action from the federal government. While the
Commission's report includes important measures to curb the crisis --
such as expanding access to naloxone and supporting prescription drug
monitoring programs-- the glaring absence of any recommendation of
robust, new funding is a punch in the gut for the countless
individuals and families struggling with opioid addiction," Blumenthal

Blumenthal urged his fellow members of Congress to pass a bill,
Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, which would provide $45 billion
over the next 10 years to efforts aimed at stymieing the opioid
crisis's lethal toll.

"Strong, long-term funding -- not just paltry rhetoric -- is needed
now more than ever," Blumenthal said.

The commission did acknowledge issues within the current system of
federal funding, largely done through block grants to states.

"It is clear that each federal agency has goals related to reducing
drug use and misuse and provides funding for such activities," the
commission wrote. "However, from the vantage points of states, this
funding is not well coordinated, and applying for funding from the
many different agencies, is a tremendous administrative burden for

The commissions recommendations were varied and included increasing
access to the life-saving overdose drug naloxone and putting more
funding into medication-assisted treatment, an evidence based approach
to recovery.

Gary Mendell, CEO of the Connecticut-based addiction organization
Shatterproof, said he was encouraged by some of the report, but
thought it fell short in terms of treatment guidance.

"Today's recommendations fail to address comprehensive addiction
treatment. The country needs a national standard of care for addiction
treatment programs," Mendell said in a statement.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt