January 30, 2018
Statement from HHS Secretary Azar on President Trump’s State of the Union Address
On Tuesday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued the following statement on President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address:
“I commend President Trump for delivering a speech that celebrated the economic boom we have seen under his leadership, which has brought new opportunity and prosperity to the American people. A healthier economy means a healthier America, and we look forward to more such success in the coming year, including through reforms to make healthcare more affordable and accessible for all Americans.
“The President also deserves tremendous credit for his leadership in addressing the opioid crisis that’s hitting communities all across America. During his first year in office, President Trump has brought a new level of awareness and commitment to this cause, and I look forward to expanding and enhancing our aggressive approach to this scourge of addiction and overdose.”
In 2017 under President Trump, among other actions on the opioid epidemic, HHS:
- Declared a historic nationwide Public Health Emergency regarding the crisis, bringing a new level of coordination and commitment to the issue;
- Disbursed more than $800 million in grants to fight the opioid crisis, more than any previous year;
- Unveiled a comprehensive five-point strategy, encompassing better treatment, prevention, and recovery services; better targeting of overdose-reversing drugs; better data on the epidemic; better research on pain and addiction, and better pain management;
- Approved new Medicaid waivers for two states to expand access to substance abuse treatment and outlined a streamlined process for more such approvals;
- Began calculating and releasing from CDC monthly provisional data on drug overdose deaths, shortening what had been up to a two-year lag;
- Clarified privacy regulations to inform hospitals and doctors that they can share information with patients’ families during crisis situations, such as opioid overdoses;
- Approved through FDA the first monthly formulation of buprenorphine, a key option for medication-assisted treatment of opioids; and
- Delinked patient scores of hospital pain management from Medicare reimbursement, helping to align payment policies with clinical best practices and address concerns from providers that the prior policy may have driven overprescribing.
In 2018, HHS will continue work on all five points of the strategy, including through developing a large-scale public awareness campaign regarding the dangers of opioid addiction.