Combating the opioid crisis is one of the top priorities President Trump and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. have identified for the Department. Earlier today, Secretary Price hosted two listening sessions with stakeholders to gather recommendations for ways to address the opioid epidemic. The Secretary recently visited Michigan, West Virginia, Maine, and New Hampshire—part of an HHS listening tour on America’s opioid crisis—where he has talked face-to-face with people who are on the front lines of this crisis. In a recent blog post he wrote about the listening tour:
“… we’re looking up and down the federal government and asking ourselves what we can do – and what we can do better – to amplify and support the work of the men and women on the front lines of this battle. The only way the federal government can be an effective and capable partner to state and local officials is by first listening to and learning from them. That’s why our listening tour is so important…”
Today’s meetings were a continuation of the Secretary’s national listening tour. In the morning, Secretary Price met with addiction specialists and providers and in the afternoon, he met with representatives of treatment facilities.
Many stakeholders, including representatives of faith-based organizations, from across the country told their stories around the most effective methods of treating patients with substance abuse. Participants explained their frustrations regarding treatment resources and identified the urgent need to coordinate amongst all stakeholders to fight opioid addiction. Many individual participants encouraged the Secretary to increase the number of trained providers who are able to treat opioid use disorder and to allocate resources to those programs that are proven to help those in the most need.
Secretary Price listened to the group’s suggestions and explained that HHS is in a receiving mode, looking for innovative recommendations on how best to combat the opioid crisis. He told the participants about the Department of Health and Human Services’ five-point strategy for how we can best help local communities beat back the epidemic:
- Improving access to treatment, including medication-assisted treatment, and recovery services;
- Promoting the targeted availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs;
- Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health data and reporting;
- Providing support for cutting edge research on pain and addiction; and
- Advancing better practices for pain management.
Secretary Price thanked the participants for their contributions, insights, and for the work they do every single day. He acknowledged there is lots of work to do and he expressed President Trump and the Administration’s commitment and ongoing efforts to address the opioid crisis in America.
The following groups participated in the listening sessions:
- American Academy of Addiction Psychiatrists
- American Association for the Treatment of Opioid Dependence
- American Osteopathic Academy of Addiction Medicine
- American Psychiatric Association
- American Society of Addiction Medicine
- Association of Gospel Rescue Missions
- Catholic Charities USA
- Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation
- Integrity House
- National Association of Drug Court Professionals
- National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
- New York Therapeutic Communities, Inc.
- Odyssey House
- Phoenix House
The Salvation Army