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As Opioid Public Health Emergency Expires, Gov. Cooper Urges Congress to Take Action

RALEIGH

As Tuesday marks the expiration of the President’s public health emergency to combat the opioid crisis, Governor Roy Cooper urged Congress to take action on the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.

In October, the Trump Administration declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency, which gave the federal government the ability to deploy medical resources and waive regulatory hurdles. As the declaration is set to expire Tuesday, Gov. Cooper, a member of the President’s Commission, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) urging swift action on the Commission’s recommendations.

“The HELP Committee and Congress should urge the administration to extend the declaration and more importantly, to act on the declaration with policy and resources,” Gov. Cooper wrote in the letter.

In the letter, Gov. Cooper stressed the importance of access to health care in combating the opioid crisis. One in five adults with an opioid addiction is uninsured, and in North Carolina and across the nation there is a correlation between areas with a large uninsured population and rates of addiction.

“Recent efforts to strip coverage from millions of Americans and to keep those without coverage from obtaining it jeopardize our efforts to stem the opioid crisis,” Gov. Cooper wrote. “Making health care more accessible and more affordable helps people struggling with substance use disorders and their families as well as those at-risk of developing addictions. We must work to increase access to treatment and quality and affordable health care coverage is critical to accomplishing this.”

In addition to expanding access to health care, Gov. Cooper recommended Congress take other steps to help combat the opioid crisis. Those recommendations include:

  • Increased funding and investment in treatment for justice-involved populations
  • Continued funding to address long-term care needs for substance use disorders and assist state efforts
  • A prioritization of initiatives that care for vulnerable children and fix the over-burdened child welfare system
  • Federal legislation that requires prescribers to check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to prevent doctor shopping, much like North Carolina’s STOP Act
  • The Food and Drug Administration taking all possible action to expand access to the life-saving drug naloxone
  • Congress investing additional resources in the National Institutes of Health to fund research on pain management and addiction.

Click here to read the letter.

In June, Governor Cooper announced the North Carolina Opioid Action Plan to combat the epidemic. The action plan focuses on: creating a coordinated infrastructure; reducing the oversupply of prescription drugs; reducing diversion and flow of illicit drugs; increasing community awareness and prevention; increasing naloxone availability and links to care; expanding access to treatment and recovery; and measuring impact. The action plan can be found HERE.

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