Monthly Archives: July 2017

White House opioid commission to Trump: “Declare a national emergency” on drug overdoses

By Christopher Ingraham

A jug of used needles at a needle exchange in Camden, N.J. (Mel Evans/AP)

The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued a preliminary report on Monday stating that its “first and most urgent recommendation” is for the president to “declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act.”

“With approximately 142 Americans dying every day,” the report notes, “America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks.”

The commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, states that the goals of such a declaration would be to “force Congress to focus on funding” and to “awaken every American to this simple fact: if this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will.”

In 2015, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention figures, heroin deaths alone surpassed gun homicides for the first time. More than 33,000 people died of opioid overdose, with another 20,000 dying from other drugs. A recent federal study found that prescription painkillers are now more widely used than tobacco.

Prescription overdose deaths began to rise in the mid-2000, following aggressive marketing and widespread prescribing of the drugs starting in the late 1990s. In response, state and federal authorities began cracking down on prescription opiate availability, introducing “abuse-deterrent” formulations, tighter prescribing guidelines and operations targeting “pill mills” that made the drugs widely available.

But in response to these interventions, many painkiller abusers appear to have switched to illicit street drugs. As prescription painkiller deaths started to fall, heroin overdoses increased dramatically. The latest development has been the emergence of powerful synthetic opiates like fentanyl, which are sometimes mixed with heroin with fatal consequences for unsuspecting users.

In his inaugural address, President Trump cited …read more


Insurers just stepped in to avoid an Obamacare disaster

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Protesters carry signs during a health care rally in front of Trump Tower in New York. (Bryan R. Smith/AFP)

As President Trump urges politicians to “let Obamacare implode,” suggesting that the law will unravel on its own and leave people across the country with no health-insurance options, states are finding their own ways to fill in the gaps in coverage for next year.

3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017

Ohio’s insurance director announced Monday that by working together with five companies, all but one of its counties would have insurance options next year on the exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act. Twenty Ohio counties had been at risk of being bare in 2018, with no insurers selling plans on the exchanges where people can buy health coverage with the aid of federal subsidies. That void was created in June when the major insurer, Anthem, announced that it would pull out of the state.

“Ohio has long had a strong insurance system, and once again our insurers stepped up at an important time for thousands of Ohioans, taking unprecedented action to provide access to health insurance for Ohioans who otherwise were without options,” insurance director Jillian Froment said in a statement.

[It’s not impossible: Four ways Republicans could still take action on Obamacare]

A single Ohio county, Paulding County, still has no insurer expected to offer plans on the exchange. Froment said that regulators are searching for coverage options for that county.

State insurance commissioners have been working with companies to plug potential gaps over the past few months. After quite a bit of suspense over whether Iowa …read more