Trump launches opioid committee after GOP tried to slash substance abuse treatment funding

Trump launches opioid committee after GOP tried to slash substance abuse treatment funding

President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a new commission to battle the opioid crisis in America, tasking former presidential rival and current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie with making recommendations on funding and policies to help benefit Americans addicted to opioids.

"Opioid abuse has become a crippling problem throughout the United States," Trump said at an event at the White House on Wednesday. 

"Today we are bringing together leaders from inside our government and outside our government and courageous people who have been affected and really affected by this," Trump added.

The announcement of the commission comes days after House Republicans killed the American Health Care Act — the Trump-endorsed health care bill that would have had devastating impacts on millions of Americans who receive their substance abuse treatment through the Affordable Care Act. 

An estimated 2.1 million people battled opioid addiction in 2012, according to the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse. Many of those people received treatment for their addiction through the ACA's expansion of Medicaid, which broadened health insurance coverage to low-income Americans.

The AHCA would have phased out the Medicaid expansion, with the Congressional Budget Office estimating that 24 million Americans would have lost their health care coverage by 2026. Even more, Republicans were debating eliminating the ACA's "Essential Health Benefits" — or a group of services qualified health care plans must cover. Included in those essential benefits is "mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment."

Republicans say they are going to restart talks on repealing and replacing the ACA — a promise they've made since the law was passed in March 2010. It's unclear what that plan would look like, however, as they have released no details or framework.