Archive for Thursday, October 26, 2017

Trump declares opioids a public health emergency

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Donald Trump speaks during an event to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

October 26, 2017


In ringing and personal terms, President Donald Trump on Thursday pledged to "overcome addiction in America," declaring the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency and announcing new steps to combat what he described as the worst drug crisis in U.S. history.

Trump's declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources, including toward expanded access to medical services in rural areas. But it won't bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Americans a day.

"As Americans we cannot allow this to continue," Trump said in a speech at the White House, where he bemoaned an epidemic he said had spared no segment of American society, affecting rural areas and cities, the rich and the poor and both the elderly and newborns.

"This can happen to any of us," he said. "No state has been spared."

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Officials said they also would urge Congress, during end-of-the year budget negotiations, to add new cash to a public health emergency fund that Congress hasn't replenished for years. The Public Health Emergency Fund currently contains just $57,000, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, a negligible amount. Officials would not disclose how much they were seeking.

But critics said Thursday's words weren't enough.

"How can you say it's an emergency if we're not going to put a new nickel in it?" said Dr. Joseph Parks, medical director of the nonprofit National Council for Behavioral Health, which advocates for addiction treatment providers. "As far as moving the money around," he added, "that's like robbing Peter to pay Paul."

Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi called the new declaration "words without the money."

Trump's audience Thursday included parents who have lost children to drug overdoses, people who have struggled with addiction, and first responders whose have used overdose reversal drugs to save lives.

Trump also spoke personally about his own family's experience with addiction: His older brother, Fred Jr., died after struggling with alcoholism. It's the reason the president does not drink.

Trump described his brother as a "great guy, best looking guy," with a personality "much better than mine"

"But he had a problem, he had a problem with alcohol," the president said. "I learned because of Fred."

Trump said he hoped a massive advertising campaign, which sounded reminiscent of the 1980s "Just Say No" campaign, might have a similar impact.

"If we can teach young people, and people generally, not to start, it's really, really easy not to take 'em," he said.

As a presidential candidate, Trump had pledged to make fighting addiction a priority.

"When I won the New Hampshire primary, I promised the people of New Hampshire that I would stop drugs from pouring into your communities. I am now doubling down on that promise, and can guarantee you we will not only stop the drugs from pouring in, but we will help all of those people so seriously addicted get the assistance they need to unchain themselves," Trump told a crowd in Maine weeks before last November's election.

Once in office, Trump assembled a commission, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to study the problem. The commission's interim report argued an emergency declaration would free additional money and resources, but some in Trump's administration disagreed.

Christie, in a statement, said Trump was taking "bold action" that shows "an unprecedented commitment to fighting this epidemic and placing the weight of the presidency behind saving lives across the country."

Officials said the administration had considered a bolder emergency declaration, under the Stafford Act, which is typically used for natural disasters like hurricanes. But they decided that measure was better suited to more short-term, location-specific crises than the opioid problem. Drug overdoses of all kinds kill an estimated 142 Americans every day.

As a result of Trump's declaration, officials will be able to expand access to telemedicine services, include substance abuse treatment for people living in rural and remote areas. Officials will also be able to more easily deploy state and federal workers, secure Department of Labor grants for the unemployed, and shift funding for HIV and AIDs programs to provide more substance abuse treatment for people already eligible for those programs.

Trump said his administration would also be working to reduce regulatory barriers, such as one that bars Medicaid from paying for addiction treatment in residential rehab facilities larger than 16 beds. He also spoke of efforts to require federally employed opioid prescribers to undergo special training, talked about the Postal Service and Homeland Security Department's ramped-up inspection of packages, the Justice Department's targeting of opioid dealers and efforts to develop a non-addictive painkiller.

But Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), said the effort falls far short of what is needed and will diverts staff and resources from other vital public health initiatives.

"Families in Connecticut suffering from the opioid epidemic deserve better than half measures and empty rhetoric offered seemingly as an afterthought," he said in a statement. He argued, "An emergency of this magnitude must be met with sustained, robust funding and comprehensive treatment programs."

Democrats also criticize Trump's efforts to repeal and replace the "Obamacare" health law. Its Medicaid expansion has been crucial in confronting the opioid epidemic.

Adopted by 31 states, the Medicaid expansion provides coverage to low-income adults previously not eligible. Many are in their 20s and 30s, a demographic hit hard by the epidemic. Medicaid pays for detox and long-term treatment.

Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., said in a statement that many people addicted to opioids don't have insurance and more must be done to expand coverage.

"We cannot keep having conversations about gutting the ACA while simultaneously talking about the opioid epidemic. And we cannot declare a public health emergency without actually allocating resources to help combat it," he said.


Daniel Kennamore 6 months ago

The silver bullet (if there is one) to this issue is easy: legalize marijuana.

In addition to the tax revenue and lower crime rates, states where it is now legal have seen lower deaths due to heroin and opioid overdoses.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 6 months ago

Trump is a public health emergency........and there is no pill for that...

Brandon Devlin 6 months ago

That, along with your continuing coverage of the "Constitutional crisis" that is the Electoral College, should give you a pretty good stand-up career.

Michael Kort 6 months ago

Trumps emergency response to the opiate crisis has been to try and promote Tom Morino to be the US Drug Czar, who had to bow out when it was discovered ( by the evil media ), that as a congressman, Morino had pushed thru a bill that defanged the DEA from controlling OPIATE SALES AND DISTRIBUTION IN THE USA, causing the opiate problem in the first place, which made a killing for the drug companies, by encouraging deregulated opiate sales that killed people !

Way to go DONALD ! ! !.........WALK IT BACK ! ! !.........WALK IT BACK ! ! !

So where IS the 75 $ billion needed to fight this TRUMPS AMERICAN U.S. OPIATE SCOURGE ?.......well, simply said,....... IS NOT !

I guess that opiate war money it is instead going to be going to continue to pander to Trump's base by building ' Their Great Wall Of Trump " on our southern border.................To Keep US Opiates Out Of Mexico ! ! !

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months ago

We need to start with the drug companies to prevent any new addictions. I went to my dentist and she just gave me some extra strength ibuprofen. But other dentists are giving out opioids. Why? Because the drug companies give them stuff to do it.

Sarah Bloxsom 6 months ago

Duh. Let’s talk KS for just a second...the fact that a majority of overdose (especially teenage CHILDREN) is called and counted as sucicide is disgraceful. The fact that professionals were dismissed and FIRED for advocating appropriate treatment for opioid addiction is manslaughter. Did it really take TRUMP (I hate even typing that name) to say we are in crisis 15 years later?

Michael Kort 6 months ago

The whole opiate fight is budgeted at a whole $0.91 ( that's gerously rounded up to the next penny ) per death, per this last year....... or 142 per day X 365 days in a year or 51,830 deaths per year divided by a spare $57,000 that will be taken from other heath funding,..... or $0.91 per dead person from drug over doses .

Trump, Big Pharma Lobbyists and the Congressional leadership ( THE SWAMP THINGS ) should be really, really, really proud of themselves on this opiate fighting budget because they are making America Great Again.......We are the worlds Overdose Capitol ! ! !

How much have we spent to defend our own since 9/11 ?.......and this one kills 51,830 per yr of our own, who mostly are clueless about what they are getting into, and it rates a whole spare $57,000 ?

If you voted for this guy you might take a good long look at this mess, while you savor your tax cuts.......they deliver all sorts of things....... and some they didn't even have to promisse you to deliver !

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