What President Trump's Public Health Emergency Declaration Means for the Opioid Crisis

10/28/2017 03:00 | NaN

What President Trump's Public Health Emergency Declaration Means for the Opioid Crisis

The President pledges to overcome a crisis that kills almost 100 Americans a day - more than gun violence and auto crashes. "Believe me. Very, very tough life", Trump said.

The national public health emergency declaration is effective immediately and directs Eric Hargan, the acting secretary of Health and Human Services, to waive restrictions and delays for distributing federal grant money.

On the campaign trail, he would often speak about the opioid crisis in states like New Hampshire and OH, but would often cite drugs pouring from across the U.S. -Mexico border as a primary driver of the problem. Senior administration officials said that they chose the Public Health Service Act because the Stafford Act is typically focused on natural disasters and specific geographic areas.

The announcement will surely be welcomed in places like Vermont that have been ravaged by the abuse of prescribed drugs like OxyContin and illegal substances like heroin, banned as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

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

"While clearly overturning it may not be in the scope of what the executive branch can do, laying out a clear vision for how waivers could be used to improve the system on a state-by-state basis would be a significant and welcome improvement", Matt Salo, the executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors, wrote in an email to STAT after Trump's address.

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who attended Trump's speech, said he hopes the initiative will lead to "a better coordinated federal response to this crisis". "That means President Trump must use this declaration to boost treatment, invest in the people and programs that fight this every day, and make treatment more affordable".

The Trump administration plans to announce a new policy to overcome a "restrictive 1970s-era rule" that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction.

In three years, her three sons were gone. "This was an idea that I had, where if we can teach young people not to take drugs - just not to take them", Trump said.

"I know many families will welcome the lifeline of funding and resources that real action will bring", Kaptur said.

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