President Trump’s opioid commission will call Wednesday for big boosts in substance abuse treatment programs but stop short of asking for new funding that federal and state officials say is critical to pay for them, Politico reports. The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will recommend that the Trump administration increase access to addiction treatment and recovery programs, expand the availability of medication-assisted therapies and expand first responders’ ability to administer the life-saving overdose reversal drug naloxone. The commission’s final meeting and report come a week after Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, a move seen as a largely symbolic gesture that provided no new funding.
Assistant Secretary for Mental Health Elinore McCance-Katz told a congressional panel last week that the administration was committed to “bringing everything to bear” to respond to the opioid epidemic. While the panel acknowledges that lack of funding is the main barrier to implementation, it doesn’t lay out a figure, project how long money will be needed or where it should come from. The report says, for example, the “principal factors” limiting the expansion of drug courts are insufficient funding, treatment and supervision resources, not a lack of interest. It also emphasizes the need for “significant funding,” to increase the number of doctors trained in addiction medicine and to fund research on new pain, overdose reversal and addiction treatments. Advocates and policy experts say without new resources, most of the panel’s recommendations will be difficult to implement.