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Trump declares Public Health Emergency to Combat Opioid Crisis

29 October 2017

Despite his previous claims that the opioid crisis is a 'national emergency, ' the President's announcement does not unleash the financial resources necessary to end this epidemic.

Trump spoke to an audience that the White House said included family members of those affected by the opioid crisis, along with an array of administration officials and elected leaders from around the country. "We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency".

He also said he would act to suspend a rule that prevents Medicaid from funding many drug rehabilitation facilities. "The expansion of telemedicine to these areas is a game-changer and will allow people struggling with substance use disorder the ability to receive opioid treatment prescriptions without seeing a doctor, which is a huge hurdle for many West Virginians", he said. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., unveiled legislation which would invest $45 billion to combat the opioid crisis and called on Trump to direct the government to negotiate lower prices of naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug used by first responders. "This epidemic is a national health emergency".

Officials said Trump wants to include money for the crisis in a year-end budget agreement but to accomplish that, one official said the administration would have to have an "ongoing discussion" with Congress.

The president's directive will allow federal agencies to hire more public health workers.

"In Ohio, we lose at least 14 people every day to opioid overdoses", said a statement from Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, a Republican candidate for governor next year.

Pollution: Killer of lives and growth
It is also three times more fatal than AIDS , tuberculosis, and malaria combined, one-and-a-half times more lethal than smoking. The US is the only developed country in the top 10.

"I have spoken to the president in depth about this epidemic and the devastating impact it is having on our communities in OH and around the country, and I know he is committed to addressing it in a comprehensive way", said a statement from Portman, who urged Congress to provide more resources to fight the epidemic. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction, never been this way.

But Democrats criticized Trump for what they characterized as a tepid response to an urgent calamity, arguing that his failure to request funding for the effort revealed a lack of seriousness about addressing the issue. "Instead of a commitment to emergency funding for our states and communities, President Trump offered empty words and half-measures".

Critics believe the President should have treated it as a national emergency, which would have treated opioid abuse more in the vein of a natural disaster, enlisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "Until those treatments are easier to access than heroin or fentanyl, overdose deaths will remain at record-high levels". The commission's final report will feature recommendations to be delivered to the president next week.

But the president stopped short of declaring a more sweeping national state of emergency that would have given states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, just as they would be following a tornado or hurricane.

Largely as a result of these prescriptions and a surge in heroin supplies, almost 12 million people are thought to yearly misuse opioids nationwide, with parts of the Deep South, Appalachia, and New England hit particularly hard by overdoses as a result.

Some were disappointed he didn't use the Stafford Act mechanism to fight the problem because it would have made more money available.

Trump declares Public Health Emergency to Combat Opioid Crisis