While the battle over Obamacare has raged, it has taken attention away from the ongoing opioid crisis. Now, Trump’s own commission on opioids has asked him to declare a national emergency.

Abby Goodnough reports at the New York Times:

White House Panel Recommends Declaring National Emergency on Opioids

President Trump’s commission on the opioid crisis asked him Monday to declare a national emergency to deal with the epidemic.

The members of the bipartisan panel called the request their “first and most urgent recommendation.”

Mr. Trump created the commission in March, appointing Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey to lead it. The panel held its first public meeting last month and was supposed to issue an interim report shortly afterward but delayed doing so until now. A final report is due in October.

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to Sept. 11 every three weeks,” the commission members wrote, referring to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “Your declaration would empower your cabinet to take bold steps and would force Congress to focus on funding and empowering the executive branch even further to deal with this loss of life.”

In addition to seeking an emergency declaration, the commission proposed waiving a federal rule that sharply limits the number of Medicaid recipients who can receive residential addiction treatment.

It also called for expanding access to medications that help treat opioid addiction, requiring “prescriber education initiatives” and providing model legislation for states to allow a standing order for anyone to receive naloxone, a drug used to reverse opioid overdoses.

Here’s an excerpt from the commission’s recommendation:

Dear Mr. President:

I am proud to present to you today the interim report prepared by your Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This interim report is just a start; our work is ongoing and we will have more to share with you and the nation later in the Fall of 2017. We now recommend several actions for you to take as our nation’s Chief Executive and someone who spoke passionately on this issue in the 2016 campaign.

Our nation is in a crisis. Your Executive Order recognized that fact. The work of your Commission so far acknowledges the severity of this national problem.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most recent data estimates that 142 Americans die every day from a drug overdose. Our citizens are dying. We must act boldly to stop it. The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled. The average American would likely be shocked to know that drug overdoses now kill more people than gun homicides and car crashes combined. In fact, between 1999 and 2015, more than 560,000 people in this country died due to drug overdoses – this is a death toll larger than the entire population of Atlanta.

As we have all seen, opioids are a prime contributor to our addiction and overdose crisis. In 2015, nearly two-thirds of drug overdoses were linked to opioids like Percocet, OxyContin, heroin, and fentanyl. This is an epidemic that all Americans face because here is the grim reality: Americans consume more opioids than any other country in the world. In fact, in 2015, the amount of opioids prescribed in the U.S. was enough for every American to be medicated around the clock for three weeks.

Read it all here.

NBC News puts the number of affected Americans in greater perspective:

One in Three Americans Took Prescription Opioid Painkillers in 2015, Survey Says

How many Americans are using prescription opioid painkillers? About one in three.

That’s the stunning number in a new survey released Monday from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which calculated that a whopping 91.8 million Americans used drugs like OxyContin or Vicodin in 2015.

And nearly five percent of the adults surveyed told researchers they took these drugs without their doctor’s permission, the study reported.

They didn’t get their meds from some seedy drug dealer, either.

“The most commonly reported sources were friends and relatives for free,” the study reported. “Or a physician.”

If there is one area of healthcare where Democrats and Republicans should be able to find common ground, it is here. We don’t need another war on drugs, but we do need common sense solutions to deal with this very real problem.

Featured image via YouTube.


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