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Former Governors Offer Recommendations to President Trump’s Opioid Crisis Commission

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Washington, D.C.– Today former governors Mike Beebe (AR), Steve Beshear (KY), Jim Douglas (VT), Christine Gregoire (WA), and Linda Lingle (HI) outlined a set of recommendations for President Trump’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis in a discussion with commission chair Gov. Chris Christie. The recommendations were also sent in a letter to the White House and to the full commission.

Their recommendations center on three main themes: curb the supply of opioids, both prescribed and illegally trafficked; support access to treatment and support recovery; and address the stigma attached to those suffering from substance use disorders by promoting evidence based policies.

The governors sit on the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Governors’ Council and work together to promote bipartisan policy solutions to challenging issues facing the American public.

“As the former governor of a state with one of the highest rates of opioid overdose in the country, I worked closely with both parties to pursue policies to address the opioid epidemic,” said Beshear. “We haven’t turned the corner on this epidemic yet. Since I left office the issue has morphed, but the policies that work have not.” 

We know we have to curb the illicit supply of synthetic opioids and we must double down on efforts to get people the treatment they need.

“We know we have to curb the illicit supply of synthetic opioids and we must double down on efforts to get people the treatment they need, along with providing recovery supports to bring overdose rates down,” said Douglas. “We commend the commission for taking on this task. Only through a sustained effort will we stop the epidemic and help the millions of people who are touched by this crippling public health crisis.”    

In the letter, the governors stress that spending money on treatment makes good fiscal sense. According to several conservative estimates, every dollar invested in addiction treatment programs yields a return on investment of between 4 and 7 dollars in reduced drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, and theft alone. When savings related to health care are included, total savings can exceed costs by a ratio of 12 to 1. 

Additionally, the letter cites the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to the issue and stressed the partnership between states and the federal government. It also calls upon the federal government to take steps to ensure that grant funding to states is coordinated. Specifically, the governor’s letter includes ways to achieve the following recommendations: 1) Curb the Supply of Illicit Opioids; 2) Curb Unnecessary Prescription of Opioids; 3) Promote Treatment and Recovery; and 4) Educate America.

The Trump Commission, led by Christie, is expected to release an interim report later this month and a final report in October.

KEYWORDS: CHRIS CHRISTIE, CHRIS GREGOIRE, COMMISSION ON COMBATING DRUG ADDICTION AND THE OPIOID CRISIS, GOVERNORS' COUNCIL, JIM DOUGLAS, LINDA LINGLE, MIKE BEEBE, STEVE BESHEAR