Gov. Charlie Baker will be among the members of a new commission to combat drug addiction and the opioid crisis, The White House officially announced on May 10.
Baker will be accompanied by another Bay Stater, Bertha K. Madras, an addiction researcher who previously served as a deputy director for prevention and treatment in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Madras also teaches at Harvard Medical School and works at McLean Hospital.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is the commission’s chair. Other members include North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper and former U.S. Representative Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island.
Gov. Charlie Baker may have found his opening to ingratiate himself with the Trump White House.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday will tap Baker to serve on a new commission to address the nation’s opioid addiction epidemic, according to a senior official in the Baker administration, who was not authorized to talk publicly about the White House’s announcement.
The panel, which will be led by Baker friend Gov. Chris Christie, will focus on identifying federal funding for treatment services, developing best-practices and improving access to treatment, according to reports. Baker’s participation was reported earlier Wednesday by NBC News and the Boston Globe.
Massachusetts is one of the states that has been hit particularly hard by opioid addiction. The Department of Public Health reported in February that 1,465 people died of unintentional opioid overdoses in 2016, with another 469 to 562 suspected opioid-related deaths.There were 1,579 opioid overdose deaths in 2015 and 1,321 in 2014, according to DPH figures.
Since taking office in 2015, combating the opioid epidemic has been a centerpiece of the governor’s work. He led the effort to pass laws limiting first-time opioid prescriptions and worked with the heads of the state’s medical schools to improve doctor training for pain management and prescribing practices.
Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday establishing the commission, which will also include Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, Defense Secretary James Mattis, according to STAT, which obtained a draft of the order.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is expected to join Baker on the panel, NBC News reported. The group will be asked to make initial recommendations within three months, and produce a final report by October, according to reports.