Overnight Healthcare

Overnight Health Care: Trump says this generation can end opioid epidemic | Overdose deaths double over decade | Dems seek money to address crisis


President Trump called the opioid epidemic the “worst drug crisis” to strike the U.S. in its history on Thursday while declaring a public health emergency.

“Nobody has seen anything like this going on now. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” Trump said at a White House ceremony alongside advocates and his wife, Melania.

“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. … We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” he said to long, thunderous applause.

It’s a move that won’t free up much additional federal funding but will allow acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric Hargan to loosen certain regulations that he otherwise would not be able to.

The declaration will expand access to telemedicine to better help those with an addiction in remote areas receive medications; allow for the shifting of resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those programs receive substance use disorder treatments; and more. 

It could spur a fight for funding in Congress, as Senate Democrats introduced a bill yesterday to put $45 billion toward the epidemic. Many Republicans also back much more funding to combat the scourge.

Trump said his administration would put “lots of money” toward coming up with nonaddictive painkillers.

Still, the administration had sought to slash funding for the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, a request rebuffed by members of Congress– where the agency receives bipartisan backing.

Trump said the administration will also launch an advertising campaign “to get people, especially children, not to want to take drugs in the first place.”

“They will see the devastation and the ruination it causes to people and people’s lives,” he pledged.

Read more here.


Melania Trump commits to fighting opioid crisis 

First lady Melania Trump made a rare public appearance Thursday to express her commitment to fighting the opioid crisis.

“I have learned so much from those and I know there are many more stories to tell,” Trump said at a White House event declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

“What I found to be the common theme with all of these stories is this can happen to any of us. Drug addiction can take your friends, neighbors and your family,” she said.

Read more here.


NH Dems say money must be provided for opioid declaration 

New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan (D) and Jeanne Shaheen (D) are calling on President Trump to pledge financial resources to combat the widespread opioid crisis, as he declares the epidemic a public health emergency.

“I’m pleased he’s designated this as a public health emergency, but I really want to see the resources that need to come in order for our communities and families in New Hampshire to be able to fight this horrible disease,” Shaheen said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” in a joint interview with Hassan on Thursday.

Hassan echoed Shaheen’s remark, saying the public health declaration is the first step to addressing the issue, but the second step will be spending “real dollars” on treatment for those suffering from addiction.

Read more here.


Overdose deaths have doubled in a decade 

The number of Americans dying from drug overdoses jumped by more than 200 percent in the last 16 years, a spike that crosses economic, geographic and racial lines.

More than 52,000 Americans died of a drug overdose in 2015, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s 211 percent higher than the 16,849 people who died of overdoses in 1999 and double the 25,785 who died that way in 2003.

Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States, the CDC said.

Read more here.


House to vote on funding for Children’s Health Insurance Program next week 

The House will vote on extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program next week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Thursday.

The long-awaited vote comes after Republicans and Democrats failed to reach an agreement following weeks of negotiating ways to pay for the program. The GOP will instead move ahead on their bill.

“The reason why we’re bringing it up next week is not because next week was the date we wanted to. We wanted to get this done long ago, but the reason why we’re doing it next week is because Minnesota’s about to run out of money,” McCarthy said on the floor.

Read more here.


Amazon gets pharmacy license in 12 states: report

Tech giant Amazon is expanding into the pharmacy business, according to a Thursday report from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The popular shopping website has reportedly received approval for wholesale pharmacy licenses in at least 12 states: Nevada, Arizona, North Dakota, Louisiana, Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan, Connecticut, Idaho, New Hampshire, Oregon and Tennessee

The news comes months after a CNBC report that Amazon was beginning to hire personnel to break to the industry, which is currently dominated by three major companies.

The report in May of this year indicated that the pharmaceutical industry represents a $25-$50 billion opportunity for Amazon. Inc., which reportedly holds a meeting each year to discuss the possibility.

Read more here.


The Hill event

Join The Hill on Tuesday, November 7, for America’s Opioid Epidemic: Strategies for Prevention featuring FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.). Topics of conversation include the response to the opioid crisis, prevention initiatives, and the role education might play in lowering addiction rates. 


From The Hill’s opinion pages

Five reasons why Trump should declare the opioid crisis a national emergency, by Michael Fraser and Andy Baker-White from the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials

This administration is hell-bent on attacking women’s health, by Dana E. Singiser from Planned Parenthood Federation of America


What we’re reading 

Trump health official Seema Verma has a plan to slash Medicaid rolls. Here’s how. (statnews.com)

CVS Health is in talks to buy Aetna (The Wall Street Journal)

The quiet crisis among African Americans: Pregnancy and childbirth are killing woman at inexplicable rates (Los Angeles Times)


State by state 

Maryland regulators approve higher insurance rates (NBC Washington)

Arizona high court hears Medicaid expansion challenge (Associated Press)

Kentucky confident Trump will approve Medicaid request (Associated Press)


Send tips and comments to Jessie Hellmann, jhellmann@thehill.com; Peter Sullivan, psullivan@thehill.com; Rachel Roubein, rroubein@thehill.com; and Nathaniel Weixel, nweixel@thehill.com.

Follow us on Twitter: @thehill@jessiehellmann@PeterSullivan4@rachel_roubein, and @NateWeixel.

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