White House drug panel eyes role of policy in opioid crisis

By Ed Adamczyk  |  Oct. 20, 2017 at 9:59 AM
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Oct. 20 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump's commission on drug and opioid addiction will meet Friday morning to discuss what role, if any, health insurance policies may be playing in the crisis.

The meeting of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and Opioid Crisis is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. EDT, the White House press office said.

Commission members and government officials are still working to develop an official policy to fight the opioid epidemic, in view of Trump's emergency declaration that the president said he will outline soon.

"That is a very, very big statement," Trump said on Monday. "It's a very important step. We're going to be doing it in the next week."

The details of the administration's plan remain unclear. It's also unknown whether Trump has settled on permanent leadership to execute his designs.

"They are not ready for this," an unidentified public health official told Politico Friday.

Representatives of health insurers -- including Aetna, Anthem, Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna -- are expected to speak to the panel Friday.

The commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will also hear from Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Earlier this week, Rosenstein announced an indictment of two Chinese nationals for importing synthetic opioid fentanyl into the United States "in large quantities."

The Centers for Disease Control estimated that over 20,000 Americans died in 2016 by fentanyl overdoses, a figure it said is rising.

Another commission meeting is scheduled for Nov. 1, before its final report is delivered to Trump.

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