D.C. Update– February 15, 2017


News from NASADAD

Around the Agencies

Capitol Hill Happenings

News from the States

In the News

Upcoming Events


News from NASADAD

New peer-reviewed article highlights SSA efforts to address opioid crisis

A study recently released in Public Health Reports—the official journal of the U.S. Surgeon General—used data from NASADAD’s 2015 inquiry on States’ efforts to address prescription drug misuse and heroin use to describe how States are combatting the opioid epidemic. The article, titled How States Are Tackling the Opioid Crisis, is the first of its kind to quantify and summarize State-level efforts to combat prescription drug and opioid addiction. As federal initiatives by Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) aim to improve substance use disorder prevention and treatment, this article outlines the critical role that States—in particular the State alcohol and drug authorities—have in addressing the opioid crisis. The initiatives undertaken by SSAs that are highlighted in the article include:

  • Educating the general public, prescribers, patients and families, and pharmacists about the risks of opioids;
  • Increasing funding for medication-assisted treatment;
  • Expanding the availability of naloxone;
  • Establishing guidelines for safe opioid prescribing;
  • Requiring prescriber use of prescription monitoring programs;
  • Enacting Good Samaritan laws to protect those helping treat overdoses; and
  • Enacting legislation to regulate pain clinics.


Authors offer a review of the literature, noting that SSAs’ efforts to address opioid misuse and addiction align with intervention models that have been previously evaluated. The article recognizes that State alcohol and drug authorities have demonstrated a robust response to the opioid crisis, and concludes that future efforts should “focus on maintenance and further expansion of the high-quality, evidence-based practices, policies, and programs” that States are already implementing.

The paper has already been downloaded 630 times, and last week the Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, Tweeted about the article.

NASADAD staff are appreciative of the SSAs for taking the time to complete the 2015 prescription drug and heroin inquiry, as it culminated in this publication.

Read the full article here.

NASADAD releases updated fact sheet on opioids

NASADAD has released an updated fact sheet on opioids. The fact sheet provides an overview of opioid pain relievers and heroin. It reviews evidence-based, cost-effective treatment options for opioid addiction, as well as the overdose reversal drug, naloxone. The fact sheet also highlights key federal agencies in the effort to prevent and treat opioid addiction, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and federal programs, such as the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants.

Access the fact sheet here.

Around the Agencies

GAO report highlights impact of data limitations on Medicaid

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report on data limitations that impact the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The report—titled Program Oversight Hampered by Data Challenges, Underscoring Need for Continued Improvements—notes that Medicaid uses State-reported data that may be inaccurate or incomplete. The GAO recommends that CMS take immediate steps to improve Medicaid data available for program oversight.

Read the full report here.

CDC releases article on e-cigarettes and young people

The Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released an article to complement the Surgeon General’s recently published report, E-cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults. The article, titled E-cigarettes and Young People: A Public Health Concern, contains an overview of e-cigarettes; a call to action for parents to talk to their children about the risks associated with e-cigarette use; a list of specific actions that parents and other adults can take to address e-cigarette use among young people; and other resources.

The Surgeon General’s report on e-cigarettes can be accessed here.

Read the full OSH article here.

NIDA features guest blog by former Legal Action Center (LAC) colleague on access to substance use disorder treatment in Baltimore

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has published a guest blog post on its website on Improving Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment in Baltimore City. The blog was authored by Mark L. O’Brien, Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment at the Baltimore City Health Department, and Dr. Leana S. Wen, the Baltimore City Health Commissioner. Mark O’Brien previously worked at the Legal Action Center (LAC) where he led efforts on criminal justice reform. NIDA has been working with the Baltimore City Health Department to address the opioid crisis in Baltimore by improving access to treatment for individuals with an opioid use disorder. The blog post highlights the programs and policies that have been implemented in Baltimore, such as a 24/7 hotline for addiction services, a 24/7 stabilization center, and increasing access to medication-assisted treatment.

Read the full blog post here.

HHS releases summary report of Expert Consultation on the Evidence for Early Hepatitis C (HCV) Treatment

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released a report as follow-up from the September 2016 Expert Consultation on the Evidence for Early Hepatitis C (HCV) Treatment in the United States. The HHS-convened Expert Consultation meeting aimed to identify barriers to accessing hepatitis C treatment and potential strategies for ensuring that people who are infected can get the treatment they need. The report summarizes the Expert Consultation meeting, and categorizes key issues related to HCV treatment in the following areas: payer restrictions, improving HCV surveillance and health care data, HCV treatment outcomes, health care system capacity, and HCV screening.

Read the full report here.

Capitol Hill Happenings

House Bipartisan Heroin Task Force hosts roundtable on heroin and synthetic drugs

Last week the House of Representatives Bipartisan Heroin Task Force hosted a roundtable on heroin and synthetic drug abuse. Co-chairs of the Task Force, Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) and Ann Kuster (D-NH), made opening remarks. Featured speakers included: Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA); Corey Waller, Advocacy Committee Chairman of the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM);  Josh Rising, Director of Health Programs for the Pew Charitable Trusts; and Lisa Marsch, Director of the Dartmouth Center for Technology and Behavioral Health. The topics covered during the roundtable included how heroin and synthetic drugs affect the brain; the importance of communication between doctors and families on treatment plans for individuals with an addiction; the need for alternative pain medicine; and the potency of synthetic drugs.

Watch a recording of the roundtable here.

News from the States

Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and disAbility Services releases an Peer Support Toolkit

The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and disAbility Services has released an interactive Peer Support Toolkit. The toolkit offers provides compendium of practices and tools that aims to help increase the effectiveness of peer support services. The toolkit is organized in four modules that address different stages of implementing peer support services: 1) Preparing the Organizational Culture; 2) Recruiting and Hiring Peer Staff; 3) Service Delivery; and 4) Supervision and Retention. The toolkit was developed with support from the Great Lakes Addiction Technology Transfer Center (Great Lakes ATTC).

Download the toolkit here.

In the News

National Academy for State Health Policy releases report on Health Savings Accounts

The National Academy for State Health Policy (NASHP) has released a report titled, Health Savings Accounts —Lessons from States; Questions for Policymakers. The report provides an overview of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and describes the impact of HSAs with high-deductible health plans (HDHPs) on low-income individuals. Additionally, the report highlights Indiana and Michigan as States that have been granted Section 1115 waivers and have incorporated HSAs or similar accounts into their Medicaid expansions.

Access the full report here.

Upcoming Events

SAMHSA-HRSA Center for Integrated Health Solutions webinar on Addressing Behavioral Health with Older Adults in Primary Care

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)- Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA) Center for Integrated Health Solutions will be holding a webinar tomorrow on mental health and substance use disorder services for older adults. The webinar is titled Aging Well: Addressing Behavioral Health with Older Adults in Primary Care Settings. Guest presenters include: Dr. Dr. Steven Bartels, Director of the Dartmouth Centers for Health and Aging, Amanda Pettit, Clinic Nurse Manager at Crossing Rivers Health, and Ashley Hady, Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Crossing Rivers Health. The webinar will be held on Wednesday, February 15that 1:00pm EST.

Register for the webinar here.

Should you have any questions, or require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Robert Morrison, Executive Director, or Shalini Wickramatilake-Templeman, Federal Affairs Manager, at (202) 293-0090.