Jun 16, 2018

The big picture: U.S. opioid crisis has no end in sight

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios 

The House is voting on dozens of bills to address rampant opioid addiction— an issue that unifies lawmakers and voters like no other, and is often deeply personal.

The big picture: This epidemic is touching more and more of us: More than 40% of millennials personally know someone who has dealt with an opioid addiction, according to an NBC News/GenForward poll out Friday.

  • But Washington is still playing catch-up. Many of the changes being made by Congress and the administration are meaningful, but experts say there’s still far more to be done, especially on treating addiction.

What Congress is doing: Funding for the epidemic has drastically increased in recent years — the most recent spending bill dedicated about $4 billion to the crisis. But there are other policy changes are underway, including those being voted on in the House this month:

  • One would get rid of a ban on federal Medicaid funding for mental health treatment facilities with more than 16 beds. That might be the most significant change.
  • Some bills also create new prescription opioid policies,like requiring the Food and Drug Administration to work with drug companies on ways to return or destroy unused opioids.
  • Another proposal would allow more providers to use buprenorphine, a type of medication-assisted therapy.
  • To crack down on imported fentanyl, the House passed a bill that gives the FDA more authority to seize fentanyl arriving through international mail.

What Congress isn’t doing: Experts say states need more money over a longer period, and that the country's overall treatment infrastructure needs a significant upgrade, as most of the country is ill-equipped to deal with the epidemic.

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Boris Johnson admitted to hospital as coronavirus symptoms persist

Photo: Ray Tang/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been admitted to the hospital for tests as a "precautionary step" as his coronavirus symptoms have continued to persist ten days after testing positive, according to a Downing Street spokesperson.

Why it matters: Johnson was the first major elected leader to test positive for the coronavirus. He was admitted on the same day that Queen Elizabeth II gave a rare televised address to the nation, urging the British people to confront the pandemic with the same "self-discipline" and "resolve" that has defined the country in times of crisis.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,252,265 — Total deaths: 68,413 — Total recoveries: 258,495Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 325,185 — Total deaths: 9.267 — Total recoveries: 16,820Map.
  3. Public health latest: CDC launches national trackers and recommends face coverings in public. Federal government will cover costs of COVID-19 treatment for uninsured. Surgeon general says this week will be "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."
  4. 2020 latest: "We have no contingency plan," Trump said on the 2020 Republican National Convention. Biden says DNC may have to hold virtual convention.
  5. States updates: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the state is "literally going day-to-day" with supplies.
  6. Work update: Queen Elizabeth II urges the British people to confront pandemic with "self-discipline" and "resolve" in rare televised address.
  7. What should I do? Pets, moving and personal health. Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Queen Elizabeth addresses U.K. amid coronavirus crisis: "We will meet again"

In a rare televised address on Sunday, Queen Elizabeth II urged the United Kingdom to respond to the coronavirus pandemic with the "self-discipline" and "resolve" that have defined the British people in moments of crisis.

Why it matters: It's just the fifth time that the queen, who traditionally speaks to the nation once a year on Christmas Day, has addressed the British people in this way during her 68-year reign.

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