The White House commission on fighting the opioid crisis issued its first draft report to the president.
Two of the report’s recommendations are central concerns of former Congressman Patrick Kennedy and Governor Charlie Baker — both members of the five-person commission.
The commission is chaired by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. He said the first and most urgent recommendation to President Trump is to declare the epidemic a National Emergency.
Kennedy praised Christie for that, saying, "No action can really take place if it's not framed by the narrative; and the narrative is really one of a national crisis."
Kennedy also said a declaration of National Emergency is crucial to sweeping away stigma around substance abuse disorders.
"If this were any other public health issue,” Kennedy said, “our response as a nation would be dramatically different then it currently is simply because these diseases are really shunned and shamed by society."
Kennedy says those kind of attitudes enable insurance companies to skirt the law and deny good coverage for addiction treatment.
Another recommendation in the report supports better medical education for those who prescribe opioids—something Baker has implemented in Massachusetts.