August 14, 2017

President Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a National Emergency

“We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” said President Trump on Thursday, accepting the recommendation of the White House Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis by declaring a national emergency. The president’s surprise announcement came two days after Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price and presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway discussed the Commission’s interim report in a press conference, vowing to devote resources to combat the epidemic, but stopped short of an emergency declaration.  Declaring the crisis an emergency is expected to improve prevention, treatment, and recovery outcomes by directing and mobilizing additional resources to address addiction; however, the specifics are not yet clear.

The bipartisan Commission, led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, provided additional recommendations which include increasing treatment capacity for those living with addiction and better educating prescribers about the potential for abuse. There are currently six states that have already declared the opioid crisis an emergency, responding by directing funding to medication-assisted treatment programs, tightening prescribing rules, and allowing broader access to naloxone, an overdose-reversal drug. A national declaration may result in similar actions being taken at the federal level.  

Resources for Meeting with Representatives Over Congressional Recess

NACCHO’s most recent Action Alert provided an advocacy toolkit and asked for leadership in sharing information with representatives, as the fiscal year ends on September 30 and congress will need to make decisions about funding priorities impacting community health. Members of Congress will be adjourned until September 5. During the recess, members are more likely to be in their districts, giving you more opportunities to meet with your representative. Here are some additional NACCHO resources for public health advocacy:

State Lawmakers Return to Sacramento Next Week

California’s Senators and Assemblymembers have been on recess since July 21 and will return to Sacramento next Monday. Once lawmakers arrive, they will be met with a series of quickly approaching bill deadlines until September 15, when the first-year of the two-year legislative session comes to an end. 

August 7, 2017

Assembly Speaker Rendon Faces Recall Effort After Tabling Single-Payer Healthcare Bill

Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon is now facing recall efforts following his decision to table SB 562 (Lara and Atkins), which would have made California the “single-payer” for healthcare services in the state. SB 562 was passed by the Senate, despite having an unclear path to fund its estimated $400 billion cost – an amount larger than our state’s budget. At the time, many progressive senators were conflicted, as they acknowledged the bill’s infeasibility while defending their conceptual support for single-payer healthcare. The majority of senators voted in support of SB 562 as a gesture to continue the single-payer conversation, thereby leaving members of the Assembly to develop a funding solution to a bill that is essentially seen by both Democrats and Republicans as being fiscally unworkable.

Importantly, single-payer healthcare has become something of a litmus test for California Democrats, who fear the optics of voting against providing everyone with health coverage. With no solution for funding, Speaker Rendon decided to table the enormously expensive proposal, shielding members of the Assembly from publicly voicing their concerns to the popular, yet impractical, SB 562. He alone now faces the consequences of saying “no.”

It is still uncertain how serious of a threat the recall challenge will turn out to be. Organizers will need to collect more than 20,000 signatures to hold a recall. Speaker Rendon has more than $1 million in campaign accounts and claimed landslide victories in his last three elections.

White House Opioid Commission Recommends State of Emergency

President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, established in late March and led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, provided an interim report last week examining and recommending solutions to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. The interim report urges the president to declare a national emergency either under the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act and shares many startling facts about the severity of the epidemic, most notably acknowledging the number of Americans dying every day from accidental overdose is “equal to September 11th every three weeks.” The Commission argues the president’s declaration would empower his administration with the resources to handle the crisis, noting that “if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.” President Trump is still considering the Commission’s recommendations.

Communicate with Members of Congress Back Home 

(From NACCHO’s News from Washington) The House and Senate are on recess until Labor Day. This is your opportunity to meet with policymakers back home and communicate with them about public health issues in your community. NACCHO has provided an advocacy toolkit that gives you guidance about how to communicate with policy makers and offers talking points, sample meeting request letters and sample factsheets.