GAO Issues Report on Opioid Emergency Declaration

This week, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report that examines the federal government’s emergency declaration on the opioid epidemic, initially declared by the Acting Secretary of Health and Human Services in October 2017 and renewed in April 2018.

The report indicates that the emergency declaration allowed HHS to survey more than 13,000 providers to assess prescribing trends for medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and address any barriers to prescribing MAT. The declaration also allowed HHS to waive public notice periods for select Medicaid demonstration projects, enabling some states to test and evaluate new approaches for delivering Medicaid substance use disorder treatment services. Additionally, the report finds HHS took steps to expedite support for research on opioid use disorder treatments and disseminate information on opioid misuse and addiction.

The GAO found that the federal administration had not used, for a variety of reasons, 14 other authorities and functions that become available in a public health emergency. The full GAO report is available here.