Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a National Emergency
President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency just over a week ago. This move comes after a July 31st report produced by the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, a commission the president organized himself. This commission, headed by Governor Chris Christie, noted that “the number of opioid overdoses in America have quadrupled…in that same period, the amount of prescription opioids in American have quadrupled as well.” The primary recommendation of the commission was to declare a national emergency.
The president’s commission outlined a few additional recommendations for ameliorating the crisis: 1) increase treatment capacity, predominantly by eliminating “barriers to treatment resulting from the federal Institutes of Mental Diseases exclusion within the Medicaid program”, a clause by which Medicaid is prohibited from reimbursing certain inpatient facilities treating mental diseases and substance use disorders; 2) improve education of prescribers to enhance prevention; 3) improve access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, which combines behavioral therapy and medications to treat substance use disorders; 4) continue to encourage dispensing of naloxone, a rapid opioid overdose reversing drug; and 5) improve interstate data sharing for prescription drug monitoring programs to track abuse.
While Mr. Trump’s declaration may lead to treatment of the United States’ opioid problem, it was not without opposition. In a recent Washington Post Interview, Richard Frank, a professor of health economics at Harvard Medical school called the move “symbolic mostly,” noting that, “it actually involves a lot of reporting and paperwork.” In any case, declaring the opioid crisis a national emergency is a major step taken by the Trump administration to deal with national opioid abuse.
1 “Trump Says He Intends To Declare Opioid Crisis National Emergency,” NPR.org, accessed August 22, 2017, http://www.npr.org/2017/08/10/542669730/trumpsaysheintendstodeclareopioidcrisisnationalemergency.
2 “CommissionInterimReport.pdf,” accessed August 23, 2017, https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/ondcp/commissioninterimreport.pdf.
4 Paige Winfield Cunningham, “The Health 202: Trump Doesn’t Need to Declare the Opioid Crisis a National Emergency,” Washington Post, August 9, 2017, 202, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/thehealth202/2017/08/09/thehealth202trumpdoesnt needtodeclaretheopioidcrisisanationalemergency/5989eb7530fb045fdaef11bf/.