Pubdate: Thu, 18 Jan 2018
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2018 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Geoff Mulvihill


Less than three months after President Donald Trump declared the U.S.
opioid crisis a public health emergency, the nation's governors are
calling on his administration and Congress to provide more money and
coordination for the fight against the drugs, which are killing more
than 90 Americans a day.

The list of more than two dozen recommendations made Thursday by the
National Governors Association is the first coordinated, bipartisan
response from the nation's governors since Trump's October

The governors praised him for taking a first step, which included a
pledge to support states' efforts to pay for drug treatment through
Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for
low-income people. But the governors also called for more action.

"While progress has been made, the consequences of opioid addiction
continue reverberating throughout society," the governors said in
their recommendations, "devastating families and overwhelming health
care providers, law enforcement and social services ..."

They said the crisis was beginning to erode the nation's workforce and
undermine companies' ability to hire.

Trump's emergency declaration came in response to recommendations from
a commission he appointed to address the toll of opioids, a class of
drugs that ranges from prescription painkillers to illegal drugs such
as heroin and illicit fentanyl. It was chaired by former New Jersey
Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who left office this week.

In May 2016, Taylor Weyeneth was an undergraduate at St. John's
University in New York, a legal studies student and fraternity member
who organized a golf tournament and other events to raise money for
veterans and their families.

In May 2016, Taylor Weyeneth was an undergraduate at St. John's
University in New York, a legal studies student and fraternity member
who organized a golf tournament and other events to raise money for
veterans and their families.

The governors' recommendations come after a federal judge in Cleveland
pushed for a settlement in a series of lawsuits filed by state and
local governments against the pharmaceutical industry.

"The opioid and heroin epidemic knows no boundaries, and governors
across the country are keenly aware of the challenges it poses for our
communities and the growing need for comprehensive, bipartisan
solutions to help end the epidemic," Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker,
a Republican who serves as chairman of the governors' association
health committee, said in a statement.

A spokesman for the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy
said the administration is committed to working with states and
addressing their recommendations. The office said Trump has called for
a coordinated approach to reduce overdose deaths.

The governors are asking for a requirement that drug prescribers
undergo substance abuse training and register to use state databases
that monitor prescriptions of dangerous drugs. They also seek
increased access to naloxone, a drug that reverses overdoses, and
asked that Medicare cover methadone treatment for senior citizens.

They said the federal government needs to do more to block illicit
versions of synthetic drugs such as fentanyl from being shipped into
the U.S. Last year, the Department of Justice issued indictments of
two Chinese companies accused of sending fentanyl illegally into the
U.S., one of several anti-opioid moves by the federal government.

The governors took a conciliatory tone in their document, calling for
state-federal partnerships. That contrasts with a harsher rebuke on
Wednesday from a group of 10 Democratic U.S. senators who said Trump
was leaving open key administrative positions in agencies tasked with
dealing with the opioid crisis.

The senators took aim at the appointment of a 24-year-old former Trump
campaign worker, Taylor Weyeneth, as deputy chief of staff at the
Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Washington Post reported
this week that after the newspaper began asking questions about
Weyeneth's rise, he was reassigned to a lower-ranking job. There
remains no permanent director at the office.

The governors also called for the White House to put someone in charge
of a coordinated effort on opioids. But Elena Waskey, a spokeswoman
for the governors group, said the Weyeneth revelations did not factor
into the timing of Thursday's announcement.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt