Trump to Declare Public Health Emergency for Opioid Crisis

Saul Bowman
October 29, 2017

The only new funding promised in Trump's announcement on Thursday comes from the Public Health Emergency Fund - which only has $57,000 in it now.

"No part of our society - not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural - has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this frightful, terrible situation that's taken place with opioids", Trump said at a ceremony in the White House East Room attended by families affected by opioid abuse, members of Congress and administration officials. "We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency. 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.

Kessler noted that the declaration doesn't call for any funding to be made available to implement emergency protocols and that the longer fight will be keeping the public aware of the issue, training medical professionals and keeping Medicaid funded.

Trump said he would discuss stopping the flow of fentanyl, a drug 50 to 100 times more powerful than morphine, with Chinese President Xi Jinping during his visit to Asia next month.

Two senior administration officials confirmed to ABC News that the president will direct acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to announce a nationwide public health emergency and also direct agency heads of other departments and agencies to exercise emergency authorities to minimize deaths and damage caused by the opioid crisis.

Trump declared the crisis a public health emergency, saying Americans "cannot allow this to continue".

The president also said the government should focus on teaching young people not to take drugs. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction, never been this way.

Capito said, "I think this takes a dramatic step forward in fighting this national crisis".

"To fully respond to this American crisis, we must use every tool at our disposal", he said. "Instead of a commitment to emergency funding for our states and communities, President Trump offered empty words and half-measures". Doing so would have unlocked funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This speaks to something that is often lost when discussing the opioid epidemic: There are still lots of patients who need pain medication, and there are some concerns that because of new prescribing limits and the fear of feeding addiction, they are not able to get access to them. "Until those treatments are easier to access than heroin or fentanyl, overdose deaths will remain at record-high levels".

Meanwhile, Trump's opioid commission, led by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, is set to release its final recommendations on November 1.

On Wednesday, the president told Fox Business Network he would be declaring the crisis a national emergency, which would have opened up additional federal funds.

OH is spending as much as $8.8 billion a year on fighting the opioid crisis.

Noting it's been three months since Trump said he'd declare a national emergency, Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur said she hopes his administration will follow through "without delay to use this order to provide relief to the millions of families suffering from this crisis". They said the White House would soon send Congress a request for money to combat opioids, with the goal of including it in a year-end spending package.

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