Aspen Institute Health Strategy Group Releases Recommendations on Confronting Nation’s Opioid Crisis

January 17, 2018

Report details policy actions for addressing the national opioid epidemic

Contact: Douglas Farrar
Assistant Director, Public Affairs
The Aspen Institute
202 736 3848 |

Washington, DC, January 17, 2018 – The Aspen Health Strategy Group (AHSG), an initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society program, has released its second report, Confronting Our Nation’s Opioid Crisis. Led by AHSG co-chairs and former US Secretaries of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Tommy G. Thompson, the group of 24 senior leaders undertook a 2017 study of the topic, culminating in the report that includes both background papers by experts in the field and a set of five big ideas to address the nation’s current opioid epidemic.

The report, Confronting Our Nation’s Opioid Crisis, can be accessed here:

“Our nation is in the midst of a crisis,” said co-chair Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “The Aspen Health Strategy Group report offers five big ideas that will help address our nation’s opioid epidemic. We encourage those in both the private and public sector to take action to address this epidemic and prevent unnecessary deaths.”

“The opioid crisis is one of the top health issues facing our country at this time,” said co-chair Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “The epidemic has hit people across the country, of every race and ethnicity, regardless of where they live. It has impacted our friends, families, colleagues and neighbors. We must take action.”

The Group’s five recommendations include:

  1. Stop overprescribing.
  2. Treat opioid addiction as the public health crisis that it is.
  3. Stop the deaths.
  4. Guarantee access to treatment.
  5. Invest in data and knowledge.

In addition to the co-chairs, members of the Aspen Health Strategy Group include Marcia Angell, former Editor-in-Chief, New England Journal of MedicineRich Baron, President and CEO, American Board of Internal Medicine; Mark Bertolini, Chairman and CEO, Aetna; Richard Besser, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Dena Bravata, CMO & Co-founder, Lyra Health; Toby Cosgrove, President and CEO, Cleveland Clinic; Susan DeVore, President and CEO, Premier Inc.; Deborah DiSanzo, General Manager, IBM Health; Victor Dzau, President, National Academy of Medicine (formerly, the Institute of Medicine); Judy Faulkner, Founder and CEO, EPIC; Harvey Fineberg, President, Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; Kenneth Frazier, Chairman and CEO, Merck; Helene Gayle, CEO, President and CEO, The Chicago Community Trust; Paul Ginsburg, Professor of Public Policy and Director of Public Policy, Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics at the University of Southern California and Leonard D. Schaeffer Chair in Health Policy Studies and Director, Center for Health Policy at the Brookings Institution; Sister Carol Keehan, President and CEO, Catholic Health Association; David Lansky, President and CEO, Pacific Business Group on Health; Larry Merlo, President, CVS Health; Siddhartha Mukherjee, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Columbia University and Pulitzer Prize Winner (The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer); Arne Sorenson, President and CEO, Marriott International, Inc.; Marta Tellado, President and CEO, Consumer Reports; Andy Stern, President Emeritus, SEIU; Jeff Thompson, Executive Advisor and CEO Emeritus, Gundersen Health System; Bernard Tyson, Chairman and CEO, Kaiser Permanente; and Antonia Villarruel, Dean, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

The Health, Medicine and Society (HMS) Program at the Aspen Institute, The Health, Medicine and Society Program (HMS) is the domestic health initiative of the Aspen Institute. Established in 2005, HMS brings together influential groups of thought leaders, decisionmakers, and the informed public to consider health challenges facing the US in the 21st century and to identify practical solutions for addressing them. For more information, visit 

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit

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