Systemic Supports Needed to Reinforce Opioid Legislation

The opioid legislation that President Trump is soon expected to sign into law has been widely hailed as a bipartisan success and a step forward for public health. But more needs to be done to ensure that the supports needed to improve people's health overall are in place, says Naomi Seiler, JD of the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.

Opioid drug overdoses resulted in 72,000 deaths in 2017, 10 percent more than in 2016, according to a preliminary analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The opioid legislation creates, expands and reauthorizes programs and policies across almost every federal agency, aiming to address different aspects of the opioid epidemic, including prevention, treatment and recovery, according to the Washington Post.

"The opioid package contains some important provisions, and reflects bipartisan interest in addressing the epidemic,” Seiler says.  “But the kind of systemic supports that need to be in place to improve people's health overall — including affordable health insurance — are still out of reach for too many people.”

Seiler points out that states which “still haven't expanded Medicaid are denying comprehensive health care to their poorest citizens.  And the constant drumbeat of bad-faith federal actions to undermine the Affordable Care Act reflect a fundamental lack of concern for the health of lower and middle class Americans.  Political support for the issue of the day doesn't translate into meaningful health promotion across the board.”