AUGUSTA, Maine — U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will be in Augusta on Wednesday to discuss opiate addiction with Gov. Paul LePage amid the White House’s parallel push to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
President Donald Trump’s top health care lieutenant will hold a roundtable on Maine’s opiate crisis on Wednesday morning with the Republican governor that will be followed a news conference, according to a statement from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
But it comes at a crucial time for health care reform, as Republicans in Congress used Maine’s 2011 health care reform law as a model for the American Health Care Act, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week.
LePage has repeatedly been to Washington, D.C., since Trump’s inauguration in January. Earlier this month, he met with conservative leaders there on the health care bill, but later told Fox News that the bill shouldn’t allow pre-existing conditions to set rates.
The governor hasn’t discussed the bill publicly since it passed, but Price’s visit is aimed at opiate addiction. Maine had more than one drug overdose death per day in 2017, a record high driven by rises in deaths that were attributed to fentanyl and heroin.
The visit from Price, a doctor and former Georgia congressman, is part of a listening tour that he kicked off last month after the Trump administration announced $485 million in grants to states and territories to to increase prevention, treatment and recovery services of which $2 million of will go to Maine.
However, the administration is facing questions on its anti-addiction policy after a memo obtained by the Washington Post said Trump is considering effectively eliminating the Office of National Drug Control Policy by slashing its budget by 95 percent.