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Read a message on the opioid crisis from CEO Bobby Watts & find resources.
Read a message on the opioid crisis from CEO Bobby Watts & find resources.
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Mobilizer
August 2, 2018 | Volume 22, No. 6 | Archives
Opioid Epidemic Advocacy:
A Message on Action from CEO Bobby Watts
For more than 30 years, Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) programs have been effectively delivering substance use disorder services as part of primary care.  Right now, the country is in the grips of a true public health crisis–a drug overdose epidemic that in 2016 claimed the lives of 64,000 people, two-thirds due to opioids. The epidemic is in all parts of the country, the importance of integrated primary and behavioral care is more clear than ever, and the mainstream health system is trying to figure out how to do what we’ve been doing for decades.
HCH programs are far ahead of their peers in understanding how substance use disorders can be addressed through whole-person care. The Council’s preliminary analysis of 2016 UDS data shows that physicians in HCH programs are 6-10 times more likely to be certified to prescribe buprenorphine as part of Medication-Assisted Treatment compared to physicians in a regular community health center program.
I think it’s fitting that Senator Elizabeth Warren, who, along with Representative Elijah Cummings, has sponsored a bill to combat the opioid crisis, has held press conferences at three HCH facilities to highlight the needs and possibilities for effective treatment–in Boston, in Cincinnati, and most recently in Baltimore (see sidebar). Their bill, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, is based on the Ryan White AIDS program and has features that are worthy of serious consideration. The allocation of resources would direct funding to the geographic areas of greatest need and to programs that are most effective, allowing communities to determine how to best implement solutions.
As those on the front lines, we should have a prominent voice as Congress is considering various legislation. Be informed, be active on this issue, and raise your voice–loudly!
Advocate with your policymakers for needed solutions on the federal, state, and local levels using the Council’s Opioid Policy Agenda endorsed by over 40 local and national organizations.
Get Started with the Agenda
Share client and patient stories alongside data to advance the policy discussion toward constructive solutions. The Council is collecting stories that illustrate the importance of Medicaid in accessing treatment, and the additional supports needed to achieve recovery! Send your stories to us and/or connect us to a client and a provider, and we’ll follow up for a short interview.
Share Your Story
Host tours of your program and facilitate discussions with community policy makers. See Baltimore’s event as one example and contact the Council for help getting started.
Contact Us
Policy Updates
Opioid Bills Linger in Congress: In June the House of Representatives passed a bipartisan package of 58 opioid bills, entitled Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities (H.R. 6). We now await action from the Senate. Once a Senate package is passed it will need to be reconciled with the House before being signed into law. As advocates on the front lines of this epidemic we need to continue talking with our policymakers about the need for stable housing, adequate treatment capacity, and other supports needed.
Court Rules against Work Requirements in Kentucky: A federal court ruling stated that HHS acted “arbitrarily and capriciously” by approving work requirements and other restrictive provisions in Kentucky’s Medicaid waiver. This is a big win in Kentucky, but the fight continues in the three other states with newly approved work requirements (Arkansas, Indiana, and New Hampshire). 
House and Senate Negotiate on Food Stamps/SNAP: The House and Senate both passed their respective versions of the FARM bill, which funds SNAP/food stamps for the next 5 years. The House package includes cuts to SNAP which would impact more than 2 million individuals, but the Senate bill protects benefits. Representatives from the House and Senate will meet to confer throughout the summer. Learn more on how to get involved.
Medicare for All Caucus Launches with 72 Members: The House of Representatives launched a new caucus to raise awareness around a single payer system and help constituents and partners move forward with campaigns. See if your Representative is a member of the caucus, and ask them to sign-on if not.
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Regina Reed, MPH
National Health Policy Organizer
National HCH Council
Baltimore, MD
rreed@nhchc.org
(443) 703-1337 
Featured Local Advocacy –
Baltimore HCH
On Friday, July 27, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) visited HCH Baltimore to discuss their new legislation, the Comprehensive Addiction Resources Emergency (CARE) Act, which will devote significant new resources to battle addiction disorders. CSPAN filmed the roundtable discussion at HCH, which included CEO Kevin Lindamood, Director of Housing Services Lawanda Williams, two HCH clients, and a range of community partners. The discussion highlighted the need for comprehensive treatment, stable housing, and the wide range of supports needed to be successful in recovery. Congratulations, Baltimore, on a great advocacy event!
This publication and all HCH advocacy are funded by dues from Organizational Members of the Council and by private donations. Consider joining the Council to support this work.
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National Heatlh Care for the Homeless Council
PO Box 60427 | Nashville, TN 37206 US
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