Health IT Now Calls for Trump, Congress to Take More Steps to Fight Opioid Crisis | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Health IT Now Calls for Trump, Congress to Take More Steps to Fight Opioid Crisis

October 26, 2017
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Health IT Now, a broad-based coalition of patient groups, provider organizations, employers and payers supporting health information technology to improve patient outcomes, called for both the Trump Administration and Congress to use “every tool at their disposal to fight the opioid crisis.” Health IT Now is calling for policy changes to prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) and reforms to the 42 CFR Part 2 regulation.

President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he was directing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency in response to the rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use in the U.S. However, the announcement falls short of Trump’s earlier promises to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. According to reporting by The New York Times, declaring a national emergency on opioids would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue. “The directive does not on its own release any money to deal with a drug crisis that has become a grim reality across the country, claiming more than 59,000 lives in 2016,” New York Times reporter Julie Hirschfield Davis wrote.

The directive does allow some grant money to be used for efforts to combat opioid abuse and would ease certain laws and regulations to address it.

The New York Times article quotes President Trump during the announcement in the White House East Room, “No part of our society — not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural — has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this horrible, horrible situation that’s taken place with opioids. This epidemic is a national health emergency.”  The ceremony at the White House was attended by families affected by opioid abuse, members of Congress and administration officials

“We cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction,” Trump said, according to the NYT reporting.

As previously reported by Healthcare Informatics, the declaration of a nationwide public health emergency allows for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance abuse or mental health treatment.

In a statement responding to President Trump’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency, Health IT Now Executive Director Joel White stated that while the provisions in the president’s directive expanding access to treatment via telehealth are a welcome and laudable reform, “we believe the administration should take additional steps to leverage technology to fight back the tide of this epidemic.

“This includes policies to allow for fully interoperable prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMPs) with real-time updates that will be queried at both the doctor's office and the pharmacy counter, in order to stop opioid abuse before it occurs. We also believe Congress should reform the overly-broad federal regulation known as 42 CFR Part 2 that has prevented providers from knowing critical, relevant information about a patient's past addiction. We are committed to being part of the solution to this national emergency that has gone on for too long,” White said in the statement.

According to the New York Times article, “Trump Administration officials argued on Thursday that a national emergency declaration was not necessary or helpful in the case of the opioid crisis, and that the powers associated with a public health emergency were better suited to address the issue. The Trump administration, they said, would work with Congress to secure money to combat opioids in a year-end spending package, including through the Public Health Emergency Fund.”

The Trump Administration also highlighted a number of initiatives aimed at addressing the drug addiction and opioid crisis. The CDC has launched the Prescription Awareness Campaign, a multimedia awareness campaign featuring the real-life stories of people who have lost loved ones to prescription opioid overdose and people in recovery. The Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, National Institutes of Health, and Department of Health and Human Services are collaborating on a six-year, $81 million joint research partnership focusing on nondrug approaches to managing pain in order to address the needs of service members and veterans.


Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Study will Leverage Connecticut HIE to Help Prevent Suicides

A new study will aim to leverage CTHealthLink, a physician-led health information exchange (HIE) in Connecticut, to help identify the factors leading to suicide and to ultimately help prevent those deaths.

Duke Health First to Achieve HIMSS Stage 7 Rating in Analytics

North Carolina-based Duke Health has become the first U.S. healthcare institution to be awarded the highest honor for analytic capabilities by HIMSS Analytics.

NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.