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ASHINGTON — An executive order being prepared by the Trump administration would set an ambitious timetable for new recommendations to address the nation’s opioid crisis and appoint top administration officials to oversee the effort, according to a draft obtained by STAT.

The administration is expected to unveil a commission focused on the nation’s opioid epidemic soon. The panel would be composed of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, and Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to the draft order. Another five members from state governments, law enforcement, and other groups would fill it out.

The Washington Post reported this week that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie would chair the commission.

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The draft order could be changed before it is officially issued. The White House declined to comment.

The panel’s mission would be to identify federal funding streams that could be directed to address the crisis, for everything from medical treatments to long-term support services. The commission would also aim to identify areas in the United States with limited treatment options, review ways to prevent opioid addiction — including possible changes to prescribing practices — and consider changes to the criminal justice system to provide support for incarcerated individuals after their release from prison.

The Office for National Drug Control Policy would support the commission, according to the draft order, and the office’s director — commonly known as the nation’s “drug czar” — would represent the president. The White House has interviewed candidates for the ONDCP post, but not yet appointed a director.

The commission would make interim recommendations within three months of its establishment along with a final report in October, according to the draft order. The agencies involved in its efforts would be expected to quickly take administrative and regulatory actions implementing those policies.

The opioid crisis is now killing more than 30,000 Americans annually, and Trump swore during the campaign to end it. The commission would be a high-profile public step to fulfill that promise.

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However, some advocates within the recovery community are already frustrated that Trump has not yet filled key posts, like ONDCP director, and that his other policy proposals clash with his stated goals. A new spending plan reported Tuesday would cut the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s mental health block grant by $100 million this year. Trump’s proposed 2018 budget for HHS would have cut the agency’s funding by nearly 20 percent.

The Republican health care bill that failed last week, and which Trump lobbied for, would also have rolled back requirements for Medicaid coverage of addiction treatment and dramatically overhauled that program, the single largest provider of mental health and addiction coverage in the country.

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  • Dear Editor,
    I want to thank United Airlines for exposing the American Medical Association for allowing “Dr.” David Dao to traffic in drugs and still practice medicine. President Trump recently appointed Gov. Chris Christie to leadership role in fighting opioid epidemic! Both Trump and Chris Christie thought the treatment of Dr. Dao’s expulsion from the United Airline flight was terrible. As a passenger during this period of time most people had much worse options than having to drive 4.5 hours to be their for their patients! I drove 6.5 hours in a rental car to adapt to the “war time” condition precipitated by Delta Airlines problems in Atlanta, Ga. Before feeling sorry for “Dr.” Dao both Trump and Christie has to see Dr. Dao and the AMA as the enemy of America regarding the opioid epidemic! The self centered Dr. Dao used his position to have gay sex with one of his patients in a motel room and was convicted of numerous drug related felony charges. (So much for the family man image the media is trying to create. ) Dao would rather delay hundreds of passengers by acting like a spoiled brat and forcing the authorities to forcibly remove him from the plane. (Try pulling that crap with a police officer when he asks you to get our of the car.) Trump and Chirstie better take a look at all of the doctors who have been arrested for illegal drug dispensing and force the AMA to make sure they never practice medicine again.
    If they are not willing or able to step to the plate they might as well shelve this anti opioid farce.

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