From the perspective of agenda-setting processes defined by Kingdon, the introduction of any problem to the political agenda is comprised of many steps and contributions of various participants. Some essential health care issues that become addressed in the national political process pass the same pattern. They originate as specific conditions, acquire public reaction, and the recognition of the main shareholders and decision-makers.
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As it is indicated in the fifth chapter of Kingdon’s (1984) book, for a condition to become a nationally recognized problem, it must be depicted in the change of basic indicators, events, and feedback. These indicators might be in the form of a crisis, which applies to the designated area of research. The focusing events were the deaths and addictions, and the feedback was the rising awareness of the public in response to the uncontrolled opioid prescriptions.
Many cases with opioid prescriptions led to addictive behaviors, health impairments, and even an increase in mortality rates. Within the political context, once the condition is recognized as a problem, it is exposed to an array of possible solutions, which float in a policy primeval soup, in which better ideas are tested by time and relevance. An array of possible ways to eliminate the threats imposed by the opioid epidemics might be available, but only those that are capable of providing feasible and effective outcomes in a timely manner are used.
Once an applicable solution is determined, the political window should open. It means that key participants of the political process need to define the problem clearly on the basis of research and statistics. In the case of opioid overdoses, specific numbers, prevailing population groups impacted by the issue (who are mostly military veterans in the US), and the effective solutions such as healthcare initiatives on substitutes of opioids or additional funding on the elimination of the adverse impact of the crisis must be closely considered by the main policy-makers. It will enable them to develop a nationally applicable policy that will extensively address the issue of opioid epidemics among veterans and other population groups.
Kingdon, J. W. (1984). Agendas, alternatives, and public policies. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.