Obama announces additional actions to combat nation's opioid epidemic: 3 things to know

On Tuesday, the Obama administration announced various administrative actions to fight opioid abuse.

The announcement coincides with President Barack Obama's appearance at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta. Here are three things to know about President Obama's new opioid abuse initiatives.

1. Administrative actions: In conjunction with the Atlanta event, President Obama outlined several new policies his administration has initiated, including:

• The HHS will issue a proposal in enable the expansion of access to medical treatments like buprenorphine to treat opioid abuse.
• The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is creating $11 million funding opportunity for up to 11 states to expand their medication-assisted treatment services, including increasing distribution of the opioid overdose reversal drug, naxolene.
• HHS has released $94 million in new funds to 271 community health centers nationwide to bolster substance abuse treatment capabilities.
• HHS will strengthen access to mental health and substance use services for patients enrolled in Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program plans by requiring that these benefits become commensurate to medical and surgical benefits. These changes are expected to improve mental healthcare for more than 23 million people.
• The president will sign a memorandum to create an interagency task force, to be chaired by the Domestic Policy Council, to advance access to mental health treatments for addicts.
• The Department of Justice's COPS program will commit $7 million to a funding opportunity called the COPS Anti-Heroin Task Force Program to enhance investigative abilities into the distribution of heroin and the unlawful distribution of prescription opioids.
• HHS is issuing guidance for programs that will use federal funds to implement or expand syringe services programs for people who inject drugs, allowing them to obtain clean needles and properly discard used ones. This practice has proven successful in the reduction of HIV.
• Over 60 medical schools have committed to requiring their students to take some form of prescriber education in accordance with the newly released CDC prevention guidelines in order to graduate. The new educational policies will begin in the fall of 2016.

2. Bipartisan and federal momentum: In February, President Obama asked for $1.1 billion from congress to help fight opioid addiction. The White House wants House Republicans to send the Senate back a revised version of the bill passed in early March to combat drug addiction. The bill passed 94 to 1 with overwhelming bipartisan support. Federal organizations have also stepped up this month to tackle the issue of opioid addiction, with the Food and Drug Administration announcing new safety label requirements for opioid medications and the CDC releasing new opioid prescription guidelines. This could be one of the few areas in which lawmakers from both parties reach an agreement and pass legislation this election year.

3. Uncertainty remains: Though some are hopeful that a compromise can be reached over the Senate measure, its fate is unclear largely due to concerns voiced by House Republicans over federally funded initiatives and the truncated election year, according to Roll Call. Lawmakers will have a lengthy recess in August and in fall they will adjourn to get back on the campaign trail.

More articles on opioid abuse: 
Opioid-related hospital visits almost doubled since 2007 in Mass. 
HHS issues national pain strategy  
A third of Americans say physicians are to blame for opioid crisis, survey suggests 

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