The opioid crisis: What can Congress do? A conversation with House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)

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Event Summary

As the opioid crisis continues to intensify, AEI hosted a forum on Monday with key policymakers and addiction experts to discuss potential solutions. Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, opened the event by surveying congressional efforts currently underway to address the epidemic. AEI’s Sally Satel and Rep. Walden then discussed interventions on both the supply and demand side of the issue; namely, curbing the influx of illicit opioids and providing treatment to those already addicted.

Following this discussion, a panel of drug policy and addiction experts gathered to discuss the future of opioid policy and programs. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, discussed the need to ensure that future interventions and initiatives are pursued as part of a broader, systematic approach to drug policy. Elinore McCance-Katz, the assistant secretary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), discussed SAMHSA’s approach and efforts on the epidemic. Finally, Carson Fox, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, discussed the role of sanctions imposed by drug courts to act alongside other programs to encourage former addicts to remain drug-free.

–Clayton Hale

Event Description

Opioid-related fatality rates are continuing to soar across the country, overwhelming emergency management resources and devastating communities. With an estimated 2.5 million Americans abusing or addicted to opiates, what can policymakers do to combat this national drug crisis?

Join AEI for a discussion with House Committee on Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) on Congress’ ongoing efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. Following his remarks, a panel of experts will discuss major challenges to recovery from addiction and innovative treatment and rehabilitation models at the state and local level, including the role of drug courts, anti-addiction medication, incentive structures, harm-reduction programs, and coerced treatment options in fighting the crisis.

Join the conversation on social media with @AEI on Twitter and Facebook.


Agenda

9:45 AM
Registration

10:00 AM
Introductory remarks:
Karlyn Bowman, AEI

10:05 AM:
Discussion:
Sally Satel, AEI
Greg Walden, Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce (R-OR)

10:20 AM
Q&A

10:30 AM
Panel discussion

Participants:
Carson Fox, CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals
Gen. Barry McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (former);
US Army (ret.)
Elinore McCance-Katz, Assistant Secretary of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration

Moderator:
Sally Satel, AEI

11:15 AM
Q&A

11:30 AM
Adjournment


Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Isabelle Staff at [email protected], 202.862.5885.


Media Contact Information

For media inquiries or to register a camera crew, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829


Speaker Biographies

Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at AEI, compiles and analyzes American public opinion using available polling data on a variety of subjects, including the economy, taxes, the state of workers in America, environment and global warming, attitudes about homosexuality and gay marriage, NAFTA and free trade, the war in Iraq, and women’s attitudes. In addition, Ms. Bowman has studied and spoken about the evolution of American politics because of key demographic and geographic changes. She has often lectured on the role of think tanks in the United States and writes a weekly column for Forbes.com.

Carson Fox has been the CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) since September 2015. In 1996, he helped establish the first drug court in South Carolina and served as its prosecutor and administrator for more than five years. Mr. Fox joined the faculty of the National Drug Court Institute in 1997, leading the first drug court coordinator training and the Drug Court Planning Initiative. In 2001, he joined the NADCP full time, and in 2006 he became chief counsel and chief operating officer. During his career at the NADCP, Mr. Fox has developed curricula and policy for adult, family, and juvenile drug courts; DWI Courts; tribal healing to wellness courts; veterans treatment courts; and most recently, the Justice for Vets National Mentor Corps Boot Camp. He has helped lead the expansion of drug courts at the local, state, national, and international level.

Gen. Barry McCaffrey is a former United States Army general and current news commentator and business consultant. He served as an adjunct professor and the Bradley Professor of International Security Studies at the US Military Academy. He is currently a military analyst for NBC and MSNBC and president of his own consulting firm, BR McCaffrey Associates. During his military service, Gen. McCaffrey was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice, the Purple Heart three times for injuries sustained in combat, and the Silver Star twice.

Elinore McCance-Katz is the first assistant secretary for mental health and substance use. She served on the World Health Organization committee that developed guidelines on the treatment of drug users living with HIV/AIDS. She has been a national leader in addressing the overprescribing of opioid analgesics and in providing consultation on management of patients with chronic pain and opioid overuse. She obtained her Ph.D. from Yale University with a specialty in infectious disease epidemiology and is a graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. She is a distinguished fellow of the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry with more than 25 years as a clinician, teacher, and clinical researcher. Before coming to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Dr. McCance-Katz served as a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco; as the medical director for the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs; and as the medical director of SAMHSA’s Clinical Support Systems for Buprenorphine and Opioids.

Sally Satel is a resident scholar at AEI and the staff psychiatrist at Partners in Drug Abuse and Rehabilitation Counseling. Dr. Satel was an assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University from 1988 to 1993. From 1993 to 1994, she was a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow with the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. She has written widely in academic journals on topics in psychiatry and medicine and has published articles on cultural aspects of medicine and science in numerous magazines and journals. Her essays have appeared in the 2003 and 2008 editions of “Best American Science Writing” (Ecco Press). She has testified before Congress on veterans’ mental health and disability, federal funding for mental health, and substance abuse. Dr. Satel is author of “Drug Treatment: The Case for Coercion” (AEI Press, 1999) and “PC, M.D.: How Political Correctness Is Corrupting Medicine” (Basic Books, 2001). She is the coauthor of “One Nation Under Therapy” (St. Martin’s Press, 2005) and “The Health Disparity Myth” (AEI Press, 2006) and editor of “When Altruism Isn’t Enough: The Case for Compensating Organ Donors” (AEI Press, 2009). She most recently coauthored “Brainwashed: The Seductive Appeal of Mindless Neuroscience” (Basic Books, 2013).

Greg Walden is the chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the US representative for the Second Congressional District of Oregon. Before his time in Congress, he spent more than two decades as a radio station owner in the Gorge. He is also a licensed amateur radio operator. In his current role as chairman, he has worked to pass legislation to spur new US technology and innovation, protect the internet from government control, and grow American jobs by expanding access to wireless broadband.

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