Since our last update and in the face of ever increasing overdose deaths, we have seen coverage of the opioid addiction epidemic increase nationally. The epidemic has generated additional interest in policy and legislative solutions as well.
On the legislative front, attempts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act have captured the attention of addiction fighting organizations across the country including FED UP. Recent bills introduced in the House and Senate included provisions which could have far-reaching implications for coverage of addiction treatment. Included in those bills were proposals to allow health insurers to offer streamlined health insurance coverage which may eliminate mental health and addiction treatment as essential benefits as well as new limits on coverage of pre existing conditions. In addition, House and Senate proposals included dramatic cuts in Medicaid which now provide addiction treatment to thousands of economically disadvantaged citizens suffering from SUD. While the bills did not ultimately pass, we will remain steadfast in opposition to any future healthcare reform proposals that lessen access to life-saving treatment.
In the policy arena, the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis released an interim report on July 31. Noteworthy among many recommendations were calls for the declaration of a national public health emergency, dramatically expanding and funding access to medication-assisted treatment, mandating prescriber education, removing regulatory barriers that limit sharing of needed patient information and increasing efforts to interdict the arrival of imported fentanyl. While the Commission recommendations are proposals, the Administration and the Congress will be required to accept and implement them. While FED UP broadly supports nearly all of the recommendations, many details remain unanswered. We intend to closely monitor recommendation implementation, especially the declaration of a public health emergency, which based on statements from the Administration, seemingly emphasize a return to failed “war on drugs” policies of the past.
The FED UP Coalition remains committed to ensuring the FDA be part of the solution to the epidemic rather than a contributor – fighting for industry free opioid use guidance, more careful and considered opioid approval processes and mandatory prescriber education. FED UP will demand FDA improve opioid labeling, consistent with CDC’s prescribing guidelines which include dosage and duration limits.
We invite supporters to learn more by attending the FED UP Rally event in Washington, DC on August 31. Rally events will include a press conference at the National Press Club to discuss our demands followed by a networking luncheon to discuss and share advocacy issues for 2017. In the evening, a remembrance vigil and march to the White House grounds to have our voices heard have been organized. Please learn more about the August 31 Rally events on the website.
Thank you for your support!