Interim report calls for more money to combat opioid abuse, calls on Trump Administration to declare epidemic a national emergency

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Chris Murphy (D-CT) urged the Trump Administration to take action following the findings released this week in an interim report compiled by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The report calls for an immediate increase in treatment capacity and enforcement of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. Additionally, the report calls for expanding access to naloxone, mandating prescriber education, and providing federal funding and tech support to states to enhance interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs. It also calls on President Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.

The Commission, led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R), wrote, “Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled." 

“To see firsthand the devastation of opioid abuse in America, you don’t need to look any further than communities across Connecticut, where people from all different backgrounds have felt the anguish of opioid addiction,” said the Senators. “This public health crisis must be immediately treated like the national emergency it is. The recommendations released by the Commission are only a first step. So far, the administration has only undermined the life-saving substance abuse programs that families rely on, and championed cruel legislation that would have cut billions of dollars from Medicaid and prevented millions of people from accessing treatment. 

The Senators continued, “Truly tackling this epidemic will require concerted, bipartisan efforts – starting with the full commitment of the Trump Administration. President Trump must act immediately to implement the initial findings of this report, including providing support for comprehensive treatment programs across the country. We are fully prepared to partner with the Administration, our colleagues at the federal and state levels, and independent advocacy organizations to bring a swift end to the scourge of opioid abuse.”

Last month, Blumenthal and Murphy wrote a letter to Governor Christie urging the inclusion of recommendations from Connecticut residents, law enforcement, first responders, treatment providers, and community organizations in the Commission’s report. A number of Blumenthal and Murphy’s recommendations were included in the interim report, including increased prescriber education, enhancements to state prescription drug monitoring programs and greater distribution of naloxone.

The Commission will release a final report October 1, 2017, before which it will undertake a “full-scale review of federal programs, regulations, laws, and funding mechanisms targeted toward addressing addiction.”