Governors’ Recommendations for Federal Action to End the Nation’s Opioid Crisis

Opioids continue to fuel the worst drug overdose epidemic in our nation’s history, claiming the lives of 115 individuals every day and devastating families and communities across the country. Governors have been leading the fight against this deadly epidemic, working across all levels of government as well as with families, health care providers and others in the private sector to save lives, create a pathway to recovery for individuals struggling with addiction and prevent more people from becoming addicted. While progress has been made, the consequences of opioid addiction continue reverberating throughout society, devastating families and overwhelming health care providers, law enforcement and social services, with further downstream impacts on employers and the strength of the nation’s workforce.

The federal government is a critical partner in governors’ efforts to end the opioid crisis, providing essential resources and flexibility for states to mount a strong public safety response, prevent new cases of addiction and expand access to treatment and recovery services. Governors commend Congress and federal agencies for taking action over the last couple years to provide new funding and address barriers identified by states, such as the lack of evidence-based guidance for opioid prescribing and federal limits on buprenorphine prescribing. More recently, the Administration declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency and committed to supporting states seeking to provide the full continuum of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment services through Medicaid – an important example of how federal partners can work with states to address specific requests for regulatory relief and flexibility. Governors also applaud the work of the President’s Commission on Addiction and Opioids (Commission) for providing a new framework for federal action based on extensive consultation with states and other key stakeholders.

Building on that important work, the nation’s governors have come together through the National Governors Association to identify additional recommendations for federal action. These recommendations reflect many of the Commission’s priorities, including the critical need for state flexibility and significant federal resources to help states and local communities turn the tide on the opioid epidemic. Governors are eager to continue working with Congress and the Administration to strengthen the nation’s response and help individuals and communities heal from this crisis.

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