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Administration News

3. President Obama Outlines Plan To Curb Nation's Opioid Epidemic

President Barack Obama went to West Virginia Wednesday -- an area of the U.S. hard hit by the drug crisis -- to outline how he plans to increase access to drug treatment and expand the training of health professionals to deal with addiction.

The Washington Post: Obama Announces New Steps To Combat Heroin, Prescription Drug Abuse
Faced with a nationwide epidemic of heroin and prescription drug abuse, the Obama administration announced Wednesday that it will take steps to increase access to drug treatment and expand the training of doctors who prescribe opiate painkillers. The efforts ... are likely to have a modest effect on the steep increase in heroin and prescription drug overdoses, which now kill more people than car accidents each year, and the barriers to treatment that many addicts face. (Mufson and Zezima, 10/21)

USA Today: Obama: Everyone Has To Help Fight Drug Abuse
Obama outlined a plan that includes better training for doctors and other health care professionals to handle drug abusers and easier access for treatment. The administration is also launching a media advertising campaign designed to make people aware of the dangers of heroin and abuse of prescription drugs. (Jackson, 10/21)

CQ Healthbeat: Obama Directs Agencies To Address Opioid Epidemic
The White House memorandum will require federal agencies to train doctors and nurses who work for the government on how to properly prescribe opioid medications – an area where health care professionals often receive little training, which can lead to overprescribing. The agencies will also be required to identify and address any barriers in providing medication-assisted treatment to those with opioid addictions. (Zanona, 10/21)

The New York Times: Obama Strikes Personal Note As He Urges Help For Addiction
President Obama came on Wednesday to a hotbed of one of the deadliest epidemics in American history and, as he had at a prison in Oklahoma in July, saw a life he might have led in the stories of drug addicts and their parents. “I did stuff, and I’ve been very honest about it,” he said, referring to his admissions of illegal drug use in his youth. “So when I think about it, there but for the grace of God.” (Harris, 10/21)

The Associated Press: In Hard-Hit W. Va., Obama Hears Of Opioid Crisis
Traveling to a region in the throes of a drug-abuse crisis, President Obama promised Wednesday to use his bully pulpit and federal programs to try to combat the "epidemic" of heroin use and prescription-painkiller abuse that is upending communities across the country. "This crisis is taking lives; it's destroying families and shattering communities all across the country," Obama said at a panel discussion on opioid drug abuse. On stage at a crowded community center, Obama heard from advocates, health-care workers, law enforcement officials, and policymakers. (Hennessey, 10/22)

PBS Newshour: Sobering Stories Of Drug Addiction In West Virginia
President Obama traveled to that [West Virginia] today, where he took part in a community forum on those very problems. High schoolers from our Student Reporting Lab in Richwood, West Virginia, attended the event. They interviewed members of the community affected by all this. (10/21)

The Boston Globe: Opioid Overdose Epidemic Continues Unabated, Data Show
The death toll from opioids in Massachusetts continues to rise unabated despite months of intensifying efforts to combat the substance abuse crisis, new data revealed Wednesday. Estimates from the state Department of Public Health show that during the first half of 2015, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses — 684 — increased about 6 percent from the same period last year. (Freyer, 10/22)

4. Medicaid Reforms Part Of Obama Plan To Help Puerto Rico Stay Afloat

The island, without federal help, is set to run out of money by the end of the year. Problems with its health care system are partially to blame, officials say.

The Washington Post: Obama Backs Special Bankruptcy Protection For Puerto Rico
In addition to urging Congress to offer Puerto Rico the new type of bankruptcy protection, the administration is also recommending that Congress broaden access to the island’s Medicaid program, a move that would pump money into its teetering health-care system. It also wants the island workers to have access to a broader array of federal tax credits, including the earned-income tax credit, in an effort to pump up its dismal 40 percent labor force participation rate. (Fletcher, 10/21)

The Wall Street Journal: White House Calls For Bigger U.S. Role In Puerto Rico Debt Crisis
The White House made its most forceful call for federal intervention in Puerto Rico’s debt crisis on Wednesday, outlining legislation to restructure more of the $72 billion in debt issued by the commonwealth. ... The plan further recommends an overhaul of the island’s Medicaid program and access to the earned-income tax credit, a popular tax break designed to boost workforce participation among the poor, for Puerto Rico. (Kuriloff and Timiraos, 10/21)

Capitol Hill Watch

5. Paul Ryan Wins Backing Of Key Group's Members For Speaker Role

The Wisconsin Republican's record on issues is also examined as he faces a key vote on the road to becoming speaker of the House. In the meantime, Politico looks at who is likely to succeed Ryan as chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.

The Washington Post's Wonkblog: What Paul Ryan Believes In
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Tuesday he would run for speaker of the House--under certain conditions. The job could yield many headaches, but he'll at least have the last laugh over Newt Gingrich, the former speaker who has criticized Ryan's proposals to overhaul Medicare. ... Throughout his 16 years in Congress, he has advocated steadily for profound changes in the way Americans receive help from the government. He has sought to introduce market forces into federal programs, give state authorities more say over how those programs are administered, and force recipients of welfare to submit to careful monitoring by state-appointed caseworkers. (Ehrenfreund, 10/21)

Politico: Paul Ryan Prizes Family Time, Opposes Family Leave
One of Paul Ryan’s conditions for becoming speaker is that he be able to spend time with his family. But when it comes to federal policies on family leave, Ryan has opposed virtually every measure proposed over the past several years. In 2009, for instance, Ryan voted against the Federal Employees Paid Parental Leave Act, which would have allowed federal employees to substitute up to four weeks of available paid leave to take parental leave. The bill passed a then-Democratic House with 24 Republican votes, but the legislation never made it to the Senate floor. (Levine, 10/21)

Politico: Tiberi Vs. Brady Race Likely For Ways And Means Chair
Rep. Pat Tiberi is planning to run for the top slot on the House Ways and Means Committee if Rep. Paul Ryan becomes the next speaker. The Ohio Republican's move could tee up a major battle for the powerful tax-writing gavel. Texas Rep. Kevin Brady is also expected to make another run for the position. (Palmer and Sherman, 10/21)

And there's news also on GOP efforts to repeal the health law as debt-limit talks intensify --

The Hill: House GOP Drops Part Of ObamaCare Repeal
House Republicans are pursuing a more narrow version of an ObamaCare repeal bill, a move that the top budget leader says will ensure smoother sailing in the Senate. The House Rules Committee decided Wednesday night to limit the scope of its reconciliation bill – a budget tool rolls back ObamaCare – by adopting an amendment from Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price (R-Ga.). (Ferris, 10/21)

Los Angeles Times: House GOP Floats Debt Limit Alternatives As Deadline Looms
Meanwhile, House GOP leaders are considering scheduling a Friday vote on a debt limit bill produced by the conservative Republican Study Committee. It would establish procedures designed to force the House to vote on $3.8 trillion in spending cuts over the coming decade, to add teeth to the non-binding budget Republicans adopted this spring. It would also mandate a vote on a constitutional amendment to require a balanced budget and would impose a ban on new regulations. ... The White House has made it clear that any increase in the so-called debt limit must be "clean" of other policies that would make it appear that Obama is negotiating away concessions in exchange for the must-pass legislation. In 2011, before his re-election, Obama gave $2.1 trillion in spending cuts in exchange for a comparable increase in the debt cap. (Taylor, 10/21)

Capitol Hill Watch