Governors Make Recommendations To Address National Opioid Epidemic

WASHINGTON—To address the deadliest drug epidemic in U.S. history, the nation’s governors are calling on the federal government to take swift action.

Governors’ Priorities for Addressing the Nation’s Opioid Crisis provide recommendations for federal action to support states as they work to bolster education for health care providers, expand access to treatment for addiction and strengthen the public safety response.

“In Massachusetts, we have invested more than $250 million and enacted several reforms in our multi-pronged approach to combating the opioid epidemic, but states need more tools to bend the trend for this public health crisis,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, chair of the National Governors Association (NGA) Health and Human Services Committee said. “These priorities highlight where we need immediate federal action to save lives and start to curb the epidemic.”

Beyond making recommendations to the federal government, governors underscored the need for additional leadership from the private sector to prevent and treat opioid addiction.

“The heroin and opioid epidemic is an urgent public health and public safety crisis that affects people from all walks of life, taking tens of thousands of American lives each year,” said New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, vice chair of the committee. “As governors, we are working as individual states and with one another to stem and reverse the tide of this horrible epidemic, but we know that the fight is far from over, which is why our priorities push for additional support from the federal government. Combating the heroin and opioid crisis is an all-hands-on-deck moment, and we must also partner with the private sector, from manufacturers to pharmacies and health care providers, to find solutions and change the way we treat pain in America.”

Governors will discuss the priorities this weekend, when they gather in the nation’s capital for their annual Winter Meeting. The Health and Human Services Committee will convene Saturday, Feb. 20, to talk about strengthening partnerships with the federal government and private sector. On that session’s panel are White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli; Andrew Dreyfus, president and CEO of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; Dr. Patrice Harris, chair-elect of the American Medical Association; and Dan Luce, national director of pharmacy affairs for Walgreens. Joanne Peterson, founder and executive director of Learn to Cope in Massachusetts, will open the session by sharing her family’s experience and her organization’s work with other families affected by addiction.

Governors will also discuss the priorities at their meeting with President Obama on Monday, Feb. 22.

To learn more about the NGA Health and Human Services Committee, click here. Check here throughout the weekend for more on the 2016 NGA Winter Meeting. You can also follow NGA on Twitter for updates.