D.C. UPDATE – January 24, 2017


In the News

Around the Agencies

News from the States

Stakeholder Spotlight


In the News

President Trump signs executive order to minimize burden of Affordable Care Act

On his first day in office last Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order “Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) Pending Repeal.” President Trump states that, “It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” The order notes that until the ACA is repealed, the executive branch must take actions to “minimize the unwarranted and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.” The order also calls for the leaders of all federal agencies to prevent any ACA actions that would cause any regulatory or fiscal burden.

Read the entire executive order here.

Around the Agencies

SAMHSA releases Protecting Our Infants Act Report to Congress, seeks public comment

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has announced the release of the Protecting Our Infants Act Report to Congress in the Federal Register. The Protecting Our Infants Act—originally sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in the Senate and Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA) in the House—was signed into law in 2015 to address neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). The Act requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit to Congress a report on: 1) the planning and coordination related to prenatal opioid use within HHS; and 2) a strategy to address gaps, overlap, and duplication among Federal programs related to NAS and substance use disorder treatment services for pregnant and postpartum women.

The report to Congress released by SAMHSA includes:

  • An overview of prenatal opioid exposure and NAS (Part 1).
  • A description of HHS surveillance, research, service delivery, education, and coordination activities for prenatal opioid exposure and NAS, as well as current gaps in HHS programs and recommendations for addressing them (Part 2).
  • Clinical recommendations for identifying, preventing, and treating prenatal opioid exposure and NAS (Part 3).
  • A strategy to address gaps, overlap, and duplication among federal programs, and to effectively address prenatal opioid exposure and NAS (Part 4).

HHS seeks public comment on the strategy (Part 4) by February 13th. Relevant public comment will be incorporated into the final version of the report, which will be published on the HHS website by May 25, 2017.

Read the Federal Register announcement here.

Access SAMHSA’s report to Congress here.

Under Obama Administration ONDCP releases Changing the Language of Addiction

Earlier this month, under the Obama Administration, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released Changing the Language of Addiction. The document is meant to help federal agencies learn about and incorporate the use of non-stigmatizing language related to substance use in their communications. In particular, the document explains the following terms: substance use disorder; person with a substance use disorder; person in recovery; and medication-assisted treatment. The document was developed in consultation with external researchers, providers, policy advisors, as well as consumer stakeholders.

The document is preceded by a memorandum from then-Director of ONDCP, Michael Botticelli, to the heads of executive departments and agencies. In the memo, Director Botticelli encourages executive branch agencies to consider using the guidance included in the document.

Read the memo and document here.

Dr. Volkow blogs about Taking Stock of NIDA’s Achievements and Looking to the Future

Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), Dr. Nora Volkow, published a blog post last week highlighting NIDA’s major accomplishments in 2016 and some of the challenges and opportunities for the future. She notes that in 2016, NIDA launched the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, achieved several milestones that will aid in the fight against the opioid overdose, and funded many research studies focused on opioid addiction and treatment. She writes that, “In 2017, we will continue our hard work in addressing the opioid epidemic both by developing new pain and addiction treatment strategies and by improving the delivery of evidence-based treatments through implementation science.”

Read the entire blog post here.

HHS releases National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan 2017-2020

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has released an updated National Viral Hepatitis Action Plan for 2017 through 2020. The Action Plan serves as a roadmap for addressing viral hepatitis in the United States, taking into account recent trends in viral hepatitis infections and deaths, as well as the latest strategies for prevention and treatment. In addition to HHS, the Action Plan was developed collaboratively by federal partners from the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Justice (DOJ), and Veterans Affairs (VA), with input from nonfederal stakeholders.

The updated plan outlines four major goals, strategies to achieve those goals, and indicators to help track progress: 1) Prevent new viral hepatitis infections; 2) Reduce deaths and improve the health of people living with viral hepatitis; 3) Reduce viral hepatitis health disparities; and 4) Coordinate, monitor, and report on implementation of viral hepatitis activities.

Access the Action Plan here.

News from the States

Governor Christie declares opioid addiction a public health crisis in State of New Jersey

Last week Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey signed an executive order declaring the State’s opioid addiction problem a public health crisis. In addition to the declaration, the executive order creates a Drug Abuse Task Force that will include eight members from various sectors of State government. The Task Force is charged with developing and executing a comprehensive, coordinated strategy to combat the drug use epidemic by working across the government. Additionally, the Task Force will review current policies that preclude individuals from receiving treatment and make recommendations to remove barriers to substance use disorder treatment.

Read then entire executive order here.

Read more about the declaration here.


Ohio developing a new Health and Opioid-Abuse Prevention Education (HOPE) Curriculum

The Ohio Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (OAHPERD) is collaborating with the Start Talking! drug prevention program to develop a new Health and Opioid Abuse Prevention Education (HOPE) Curriculum for Ohio students in grades K-12. The curriculum, which will be made available later this year, will include lesson plans, assessment tools, instruction materials, teacher guides, and ideas for community and parent engagement.

Learn more about the HOPE Curriculum here.

Ohio Students Invited to Create Videos to Support Start Talking! Drug Prevention Initiative

Ohio’s Drug Free Action Alliance and the Start Talking! drug prevention program are holding a contest for 6th-12th graders to create 60-second videos offering tips on how adults and youth can have open conversations about substance use. The contest, called “Start Recording & Start Talking,” is being held until March 3rd. Contestants produce and submit their own informational videos that share tips and on how youth can avoid drug use.

Learn more about the contest here.

Stakeholder Spotlight

Resources from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids

The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America) has focused in recent years on serving the parents and families of young people who have started using drugs and alcohol, providing them with online and offline resources developed by the Partnership in collaboration with researchers and clinicians. The Partnership aims to address addiction—with current focus on the opioid crisis—by providing families and communities with the tools they need to prevent substance use disorders.

The Partnership has compiled many facts, figures, and resources below:

  1. Parents and families are vitally important players in addressing today’s opioid epidemic –and substance use disorders in general — with practical, effective solutions.
  1. 90% of addictions begin in adolescence
  2. Nearly 7 million young people 12-25 struggle with substance use disorders, and 10 million are past month users of illicit drugs.
  3. Family support and engagement is a critical factor in getting a loved one into treatment and supporting recovery.
  1. Partnership for Drug-Free Kids offers parents/caregivers of teens and young adults who are struggling with substance use the ability to:
  1. Engage with other parents who have been there, and with expert researchers and clinicians
    1. Toll-free telephone helpline at 855-DRUGFREE (Monday -Friday, 9am – 6pm)
    2. Peer to peer coaching by trained parents (referrals through helpline)
  1. Get science-based information and guidance: drugfree.org/get-information
  2. Find the right help for their son or daughter: drugfree.org/get-help
  1. The Partnership also provides tools and resources for addressing the opioid crisis at the State and local level.
  1. Resources hub created with regional High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) at drugfree.org/heroin
  2. In-person parent coach trainings, in collaboration with clinicians from the Center for Motivation and Change (contact Kevin Collins at kevin_collins@drugfree.org)


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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.