2016-06-21 National Governors Association

Opioid Addiction

The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Majority Leader
U.S. Senate
United States Capitol, S-230
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Harry Reid
Minority Leader
U.S. Senate
United States Capitol, S-221
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives
United States Capitol, H-232
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives
United States Capitol, H-204
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Reid, Speaker Ryan, and Minority Leader Pelosi,

Across the country, the heroin and opioid crisis claims the lives of 78 people every day. This horrible epidemic is the most urgent public health and safety challenge currently facing states. As Governors there is hardly a room that we walk into where we don’t encounter someone impacted by addiction. The harsh reality is that many of us know someone, be it a family member, best friend, neighbor, classmate or colleague, affected by the surge in opioid addiction.

A challenge of this magnitude requires an unparalleled amount of coordination among all levels of government. States have been leading the way in working to save millions of citizens’ lives and stamp out this scourge.

As leaders of the National Governor’s Association (NGA) Health and Human Services Committee, we have worked with our fellow Governors to bring attention to this issue and highlight successes some states have already had with addressing this epidemic.

As governors, we have developed a comprehensive approach to combating the epidemic that focuses on prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery while supporting the law enforcement community.

Governors have taken bold action, limiting opioid prescription amounts, putting life-saving Narcan in the hands of first responders, educating the public and doctors, and increasing access to treatment and recovery programs and enhanced support for those with addictions.

As proactive as states have been, this is a national epidemic that requires national solutions.

In February, Governors, through the NGA, released a list of priorities to address the opioid crisis. Among them were a number of requests for federal action and a call for Congress to provide sufficient resources to help states and communities turn the tide of this epidemic.  These priorities include expanding who can prescribe medication-assisted treatment and the number of patients they can treat and eliminating the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion to help states expand access to inpatient treatment for Medicaid enrollees with substance use disorders. We have attached those priorities for your reference.

It is vital that Congress provide sufficient resources to states in order for them to continue the work that has begun. As you begin work to conference legislation that addresses opioid abuse, we urge Congress to incorporate state solutions and recommendations into any final bill that is sent to the President.

None of us can afford one more day of failing to act on an affliction that sees no difference among gender, race or socioeconomic status, and continues to claim the lives of our loved ones.  This is a national crisis that requires cooperation and swift action among all levels of government. We look forward to working with you to combat this terrible affliction.


Governor Charlie Baker
Health and Human Services Committee

Governor Maggie Hassan
Vice Chair
Health and Human Services Committee

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