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Trump to Announce an Opioid Commission

President Donald Trump is expected to announce today the launch of a commission devoted to reducing opioid addiction and overdoses in the United States, severalnews outlets are reporting.

STAT News reports on the commission’s objectives:

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.

More than 33,000 Americans died in 2015 after overdosing on prescription painkillers, heroin, and related drugs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the epidemic seems to be continuing.

Trump frequently promised to end America’s opioid epidemic while on the campaign trail, but, until now, many of his administration’s policy goals would have undermined progress against overdoses in America, according to experts. For example, the White House considered eliminating the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which coordinates anti-drug efforts across the federal government. (The office didn’t end up appearing in Trump’s proposed budget cuts and, in fact, will be called on to fund Trump’s new drug commission, Mother Jones reports.) The White House also supported a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which would have slashed funding and insurance coverage for mental-health conditions, including substance use disorders.

It’s too soon to know whether the new commission will help or hinder addiction in the U.S., but there’s one bit of news that has anti-addiction advocates excited: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to chair the commission, Mother Jones reports. In his own state, Christie has advocated for improved access to addiction treatment and overdose-reversing medicine for opioid users.