Governor Phil Scott, Members of his Administration, Testify Before Congress on Opioid Epidemic
Washington, DC – Governor Phil Scott today delivered testimony before the U.S. House Ways & Means Subcommittee on Health.
Joined by his Secretary of Human Services Al Gobeille, Commissioner of Health Dr. Mark Levine and Director of the Blueprint for Health Beth Tanzman, Gov. Scott outlined Vermont’s successes and continued challenges in responding to the opioid epidemic.
Acknowledging the years of work and collaboration across all branches of state government, multiple administrations, with Vermont’s Congressional delegation and federal partners, and in the public and private sectors, Gov. Scott said, “we have made much progress in Vermont – much of it with the support of our federal partners – yet, today, I approach you with humility. We have not solved this problem. Every week, two Vermonters die from a drug overdose. Nearly every day, a baby is born exposed to opioids.”
The Governor went on to outline the state’s latest efforts on this issue. “We are focused on what I refer to as the four legs of the stool: Prevention, Recovery, Treatment, and Enforcement,” the Governor added. “On my first day in office I established, by executive order, the Opioid Coordination Council. This council is made up of a wide range of perspectives and different political philosophies. Importantly, that includes those who have suffered from addiction themselves.”
Detailing the state’s ongoing work, Gov. Scott reviewed progress and continued needs in Vermont’s prevention, harm reduction, early intervention, treatment, recovery and criminal justice efforts. He also called on a continued and enhanced partnership with the Federal Government. Specifically, the Governor advocated for:
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to work with Vermont and engage Medicare in Vermont’s system of care, specifically the Hub & Spoke system;
- Support in exploring better ways to implement the screening, brief intervention, and referral-to-treatment protocol (SBIRT);
- Consideration for giving states relief from the IMD exclusion that prohibits the use of Medicaid funds in mental health or treatment facilities of 16 or more beds; and
- Exploration of nationally-supported research in the areas of alternative treatments for pain and from expanded coverage options for alternatives to opioids to manage chronic pain.
“I appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee, and their attention to these critical issues,” the Governor said, following his testimony. “Our progress in Vermont illustrates the value of partnerships, and we look forward to continuing and building upon those partnerships within the state, and at the federal level.”