Health Committees Convene Joint Hearing on Opioid Crisis

The Senate and Assembly Health Committees convened a joint hearing on Wednesday entitled “Increasing Access to Treatment and Services in Response to the Opioid Crisis.” The hearing featured various panels highlighting the Drug Medi-Cal Organized Delivery System (DMC-ODS) pilots, the California Hub & Spoke System (CA H&SS), and other programmatic efforts underway in California to address the the significant number of opioid-related deaths.

Panelists included representatives from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), substance use disorder (SUD) treatment centers, and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Presentations covered implementation activities and preliminary outcomes of the DMC-ODS pilots and H&SS model and discussed ongoing evaluation efforts from a local perspective.

DHCS Director Jennifer Kent discussed the state’s approaches to addressing the opioid crisis, including the medication assisted treatment (MAT) expansion project and naloxone distribution efforts. CDPH representatives discussed the department’s role in preventing overdoses and the importance of public health surveillance and data collection.

Assembly Health Committee Chair Jim Wood discussed at length the challenges experienced by jurisdictions within his district given the disproportionate number opioid use disorders and difficulties in accessing to care. Committee members further discussed the future of SUD treatment and prevention efforts, particularly as the DMC-ODS waiver expires in 2020 and it is unclear if the federal government will provide additional funding for the H&SS model.

The hearing agenda is available here. Additional materials, presentations, and a background paper are available here.