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BPC Recommends “Smarter Spending” to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Washington, DC—The opioid epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2017; in fiscal year 2022, $6.7 billion in opioid-related spending was put toward the issue. With the death toll at over 550,000 in the last 20 years and continuing to rise, many would say the current approach is not working. What can be done to help combat the epidemic?

BPC’s Opioid Crisis Task Force—former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, former Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear, former California Rep. Mary Bono, eMed’s Dr. Patrice Harris, the Brookings Institution’s Richard Frank, and former HHS Secretary and Florida Rep. Donna Shalala—convened in April 2021 in an effort to develop evidence-based recommendations to better inform and strengthen the federal response to the crisis.

Today, their recommendations for both short- and long-term actions are released in a new report, Combating the Opioid Crisis: ‘Smarter Spending’ to Enhance the Federal Response. Included in the report are four main policy areas:

  • Mandatory: directing Medicare and Medicaid dollars toward more coverage, higher reimbursement, provider eligibility.
  • Discretionary: funding the things that we know work; bringing funding together from similar programs across all federal agencies.
  • Data: more frequent and actionable metrics.
  • Governance: more coordinated federal response.

The task force notes in a letter included in the report: “As former members of Congress, governors, cabinet secretaries, and policy experts from across the political spectrum, we stand together in agreement that the status quo is unacceptable. The federal government must do better in partnering with all those impacted—states, localities, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, patients, and families—to support a system promoting prevention, treatment, harm reduction, and recovery from opioid use disorder.”

The Bipartisan Policy Center would like to thank the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts for its support of this project.

Read the report.

On Monday, May 2, from 1-2 p.m. ET, BPC, members of the Opioid Crisis Task Force, and Dr. Karen Scott, president of the Foundation for Opioid Response Efforts, will discuss the recommendations to optimize federal spending and improve the overall federal response to the opioid epidemic. Registration is open.

For questions, or to speak to one of the Opioid Crisis Task Force members or someone from BPC about the report, contact Senior Media Relations Manager Jenn Ruff.