Timothy Shea Announced as Acting DEA Administrator

On Tuesday, Attorney General William Barr announced the appointment of Timothy Shea as Acting Administrator for the DEA. Prior to this role, She served as interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia (since February 2020) and Counselor to the Attorney General. Earlier positions included stints as Associate Deputy Attorney General (1990-1992), Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia (1992-1997) and as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Upon the announcement, Attorney General Barr noted, “A highly regarded public servant, Tim’s long career in both federal and state government and extensive experience in law enforcement well-equips him to lead the premier drug enforcement organization in the world.  As this country continues to struggle with the evolving drug crisis, Tim’s commitment to combatting drug trafficking and violent crime will be instrumental in furthering the important work of DEA.”

Former Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon, who served in the role since July 2018, will retain a senior leadership position within the agency going forward.

Articles & Resources

DEA Newsroom – Attorney General Barr Announces Timothy J. Shea as New Acting Administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration

Nineteen Senators Push For Opioid Funding in COVID-19 Response

In a letter to House and Senate leadership spearheaded by Democratic Senators Jeanne Shaheen (NH) and Tammy Baldwin (WI), nineteen senators urged their colleagues this week to provide an additional $2 billion in funding to address substance use disorders amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The funding, which would be allocated to states and local officials through SAMHSA’s SAPT block grants would allow the funds to be directed towards specific areas where the needs are most significant.

The Senators noted in their letter, “The current pandemic has dramatically altered the substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery landscape in this country, and the needs of patients and communities are clear. The nature of the COVID-19 public health emergency has increased social isolation and stress while decreasing access to treatment and harm reduction resources, with significant repercussions for the substance use disorder and opioid use disorder crises. Already, early signs from around the country indicate a higher volume of emergency calls linked to illicit drug use, as well as reported overdoses and deaths.”

Signatories on the letter also included: Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Tom Carper (D-DE).

Articles & Resources

Sen. Shaheen Newsroom – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Tammy Baldwin Lead Colleagues in Calling for Increased Funding to Treat and Prevent Substance Use Disorders in Coronavirus Relief Package

LINK to Letter

CMS MA/Part D Final Rule Pushes Some Opioid Provisions to Later in 2020

On Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released the CY2021 Final Rule for the Medicare Advantage and Part D programs, finalizing a significant majority of the components included in the February 2020 Proposed Final Rule. However, given current circumstances, CMS has indicated that not all components of that February document were included in the final rule given the need for “attention on more immediate regulatory actions.”

Among other provisions were several opioid-specific programs and changes including Section 423.111, focused specifically on the implementation of the MA/Part D beneficiary opioid disposal education program required by Section 6103 of the SUPPORT Act. CMS has indicated that those topics deferred to a second rule would be published later in 2020 – that date has not yet been announced.

Articles & Resources

Federal Register – Contract Year 2021 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage Program, Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Program, and Medicare Cost Plan Program

CMS Newsroom – Trump Administration Announces Changes to Medicare Advantage and Part D to Provide Better Coverage and Increase Access for Medicare Beneficiaries

What We Read Last Week

Several articles were published last week pertaining to the opioid epidemic, covering a variety of different components of the issue. Links to relevant articles are provided below.

Articles & Resources

NPR – Changes in Opioid Supply Create New Risks as Stay-at-Home Rules Ease

CNN – Opioid Drug Overdose Deaths Are Down in US, Study Finds, But COVID-19 Could Change That

New York Times – Raids Reveal Massive Fentanyl Production in Myanmar

Trust for Americas Health – Pain in the Nation Series Update: Alcohol, Drug and Suicide Deaths in 2018

Government Accountability Office – Medicare: CMS Should Provide Beneficiaries More Information About Substance Use Disorder Coverage (GAO-20-408)

U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California – Encino Man Sentenced to 9 Years in Prison for Leading Conspiracy to Distribute Opioids via Sham Clinics and Corrupt Doctors

U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California – Texas Woman Pleads Guilty to Narcotics and Money Laundering Conspiracy Charges for Opioid Pill Mill that Shipped Drugs Interstate

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma – Mangum Pharmacist Sentenced to More Than Three Years in Federal Prison in Health Care Fraud Case

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York – Former Medical Practice Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Stealing Controlled Substances

This Week’s Calendar

We hope that everyone is remaining safe and healthy during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and enjoyed the holiday weekend. Both the House and Senate have returned to district for a brief Memorial Day recess; they are set to return in early June.

There are no relevant hearings or markups scheduled at this time. In the instance that there are any changes to the schedule for this week, we will make additional information available.

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