White House commission asks president to declare emergency for opioid crisis


A White House commission has asked President Donald J. Trump to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to Sept. 11 every three weeks,” a report by the commission reads.

The report, released this week, was drafted by the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The five-member commission was created by a March 29 executive order and includes the governors of New Jersey, North Carolina and Massachusetts.

In addition to declaring a national emergency, the opioid commission recommends several actions to combat the crisis, including:

Waive a barrier that prevents federal Medicaid funds from going to facilities that treat mental disorders that have more than 16 beds.

Enhance access to medication-assisted treatment such as methadone, suboxone or buprenorphine, and require Medicaid and Medicare to cover these treatments.

Mandate that every law enforcement officer in the U.S. carry naloxone, also known as Narcan.

The commission says that waiving Medicaid exclusion for mental-health facilities with more than 16 beds “is the single fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation.”

Local officials agree.

“That’s a major issue in this area,” said Duane Piccirilli, executive director of the Mahoning County Mental Health and Recovery Board. “People would have immediate access to treatment if that’s taken care of.”

Carolyn Givens, executive director of Neil Kennedy Recovery Centers, said waiving the 16-bed limit would significantly impact her organization’s ability to treat opioid-addicted patients.

Read more about the matter in Wednesday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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