BPC’s Report on the Opioid Crisis

In 2017 more than 70,000 people in the U.S died from a drug overdose with almost 50,000 of these deaths involving an opioid. The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) https://bipartisanpolicy.org recently held an event to discuss their findings in their new report Tracking Federal Funding to Combat the Opioid Crisis.

The report examines how federal opioid investments are spent across five geographically diverse states including Arizona, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Tennessee. The average drug overdose death rate in these states was nearly one and half times higher than the national average in 2017.

“The sheer volume of grants going to the states has made it challenging for state officials to track and coordinate Federal funding streams and monitor the quality of treatment that is being provided,” said BPC’s Chief Medical Advisor, Dr. Anand Parekh. “Congress and the administration must provide greater oversight to ensure that federal resources are coordinated and well spent in order to respond effectively to the crisis.”

Senator Jeanne Shaheen https://www.shaheen.senator.gov representing New Hampshire said, “People think that drug addiction is the moral failing of the individual and that the opioid crisis only occurs with people at the poverty level. This is not always the case since people in New Hampshire generally have an average income and the state includes a well-educated population. But even with those facts, the state has the second highest opioid death rate.”

She continued to say, “The opioid crisis is impacting the next generation in situations where young people have parents not functioning because of their drug intake. At this point, grandparents are forced to take over the care but at the same time, need the resources to provide the care.”

Several panelists discussed ways in which the federal government is financially supporting states and localities to curb this national crisis. Moderator of the panel, Regina LaBelle, Program Director of the Addiction and Public Policy Initiative, Georgetown’s  O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law http://oneill.law.georgetown.edu said, “Substance use disorders are not going away. Federal funding must be provided over the long-term instead of in annual budget cycle and be flexible enough to allow states to respond to changes in drug use patterns.”

Liz Henrich, Associate CEO, Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities https://www.oacbha.org pointed out, “Ohio is diverse with both cities and rural counties, but treatments can often differ depending on what is needed in specific counties.”

She explained, “The goal is to do a better job in sharing information with families and friends. At the same time, the state has to determine what works and what isn’t working so that funding will go for the right resources needed in specific areas within the state.”

Hemi Tewarson, Health Division, Director, National Governors Association (NGA) https://www.nga.gov reports, “Governors are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and keenly aware that the crisis is multifaceted and can demand specific treatments. For example, NGA is working through their Center for Best Practices by sharing information on available treatments.”

She suggests. “There also needs to be improved coordination among federal agencies which requires effective data sharing. Agencies need to complement each other and operate seamlessly in the grant and data sharing process.”

Patrick Tufts, Chairman, of the New Hampshire Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment and Recovery said, “The commission’s role is to report on state substance misuse resources https://nhcenterforexcellence.org/governors-commission.

He detailed, “New Hampshire has built a hub and spoke program to help with the crisis. Hubs are designed so no individual will be more than one hour away from treatment. Hubs are fully staffed for whatever is needed. In other words, hubs are a one stop model offering treatment, recovery and other services. Spokes on the other hand are different and provide more in the area of maintenance but also concentrate on providing primary care by treating people with less complex needs.

Go to https://bipartisanpolicy.org for the report and the video.

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