Think tank's opioid task force to include former surgeon general, former HHS secretary

The Bipartisan Policy Center has launched an opioid task force to address drug addiction and overdose deaths in the U.S., the Washington, D.C.-based think tank said April 21.

The new group will develop policy recommendations for Congress and President Joe Biden's administration to reduce drug overdose deaths and combat the national opioid crisis, which it described as an epidemic within the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members include:

  • Jerome Adams, MD, 20th U.S. surgeon general
  • Steve Beshear, former governor of Kentucky
  • Mary Bono, former U.S. representative from California  
  • Richard Frank, PhD, Margaret T. Morris Professor of Health Economics in the healthcare policy department at Boston-based Harvard Medical School.  
  • Patrice Harris, MD, CEO of telehealth provider eMed and former president of the American Medical Association
  • Susanna Martinez, former governor of New Mexico
  • Donna Shalala, former U.S. representative from Florida and former HHS secretary

"Overdose death rates have accelerated during COVID-19, and the opioid and broader drug overdose epidemic continues to be one of the nation's leading public health crises," members of the task force said in a news release. "While significant federal investments have been made to tackle this epidemic, treatment remains out of reach for the vast majority of Americans with substance use disorders. Our aim is to evaluate how federal funding has been spent and offer actionable solutions to improve prevention, treatment and recovery efforts to reduce overdoses and save lives."

The Bipartisan Policy Center said it will look at a range of issues, such as drug overdose trends in the last two years, fiscal year 2020 federal opioid funding and investments and treatment disparities in states that expanded Medicaid compared to states that have not.

Task force members said they expect to issue a final report early next year.

Read more about the new group here


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