The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis yesterday urged President Trump to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. “With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the commission said in a draft interim report to the president. “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.” The report also calls for federal action to eliminate barriers caused by the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Diseases exclusion, which the commission says will immediately open inpatient treatment to thousands of Americans; better align patient privacy laws specific to addiction with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; mandate prescriber education to enhance prevention; expand access to medication-assisted treatment and naloxone; combat illicit fentanyl; enhance data sharing among prescription drug monitoring programs; and enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act. The commission expects to provide additional recommendations in its final report, due in the fall.

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