President Bill Clinton will announce new policies Wednesday aimed at reducing the overdose death rate among adults and children, a senior White House official said.
The announcement will include a “pilot program” to curb opioid prescriptions and increase incentives for prescribers to stop taking the drugs, the official said, declining to be identified.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, also said the president would work with states to reduce opioid overdose deaths.
Clinton’s announcement will come as lawmakers begin debating a bill that would expand Medicaid eligibility and increase opioid prescribing for some Medicaid recipients.
The bill is being pushed by Republican Rep. Tom Cole, who said the proposal could save lives by reducing the number of opioid deaths in the U.S. The legislation would also allow states to establish opioid overdose prevention programs and increase the opioid prescribing caps in Medicaid.
Clinton has said his administration would not allow states “to set their own overdose control strategies.”
The administration would also work with lawmakers to address the issue of opioid addiction and suicide, including expanding treatment for those who are already on medication, the White House source said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Cole called the announcement “an important step forward to ensure that our nation has access to the lifesaving treatment options that are proven effective in saving lives.”
Last month, Cole announced his bill to expand Medicaid for opioid-dependent adults.
On Wednesday, Cole said the new policy will “help prevent the death of tens of thousands of lives” by increasing the caps on prescription opioids and offering incentives for drug prescribors to stop prescribing them.
Cole is one of dozens of lawmakers who have called on the administration to roll back the new prescription drug coverage expansion, which would have been the largest expansion of Medicaid eligibility in the country.
“We have to make sure the people who are on Medicaid are getting the treatment they need to survive, and we’ve got to do it by increasing access to treatment, not by expanding coverage,” Cole said at the time.
A bill introduced in Congress last month that would have expanded Medicaid eligibility for opioid dependent adults would have added $1 billion to the federal deficit.