Like Countable?

Install the App
TRY NOW

Trump Declares Opioid Crisis a Public Health Emergency

by Countable | 11.16.17

Update

President Trump announced his plan to address the opioid crisis at the White House Thursday afternoon, reports the Washington Post, declaring it a public health emergency. The declaration will allow the waiving of some regulations and heightened flexibility for states in their apportioning of federal funds, but it does not involve the dedication of new funds to the effort.

A national public health emergency of this scope was last declared in 2009 in response to the H1N1 influenza virus. The emergency declaration will last 90 days but can be repeatedly renewed.

Details of the initiatives planned as a result of the declaration include:

  • Patients in isolated areas such as Appalachia will have greater access to opioid treatment and prescriptions via telemedicine, where examinations and diagnosis happen via video conferencing and other online sharing technologies, rather than having to see a doctor in person, as is generally required under current law.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will speed up its hiring process to have people in place to help states in crisis.

  • The federal government will allow states to temporarily shift the use of federal grant funds to target those with opioid addictions.

  • The Department of Labor will make Dislocated Worker Grants available to those with opioid addictions and others who were dislocated by this health crisis or who have had trouble finding work because of their addiction.

The government will also spend money from the Public Health Emergency Fund, although it currently only has $57,000 in it. White House officials told the press they are working with Congress to find additional funding to address the crisis and noted the $45 billion in funding for states to address substance abuse included in the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act, though no specific plan has been announced. Experts suggest the effort could cost tens of billions of dollars.

If the president had made a national disaster declaration potentially billions of federal dollars could have been dedicated to the effort without effecting existing funding for other programs, but a disaster declaration presents certain problems, which Countable details below.

For the time being, local officials dealing with the epidemic on the ground are going to be able to shift money more freely from one place to another. Those that were hoping for an influx of additional federal resources to help combat the daily deaths in their communities, however, are not satisfied.

What’s the story?

President Trump caused a flurry of excitement last week when he announced that there would be a plan announced to address the opioid crisis this week. No sources in the administration have confirmed what direction that plan might take, but there are a few possible options, per Politico.

Why does it matter?

The president’s commission tasked with studying the opioid crisis and recommending a plan of action called for the declaration of a national emergency in early August. Soon after, the president himself called the crisis a national emergency and pledged to enact a plan to deal with it, "a serious problem, the likes of which we’ve never had."

So far, however, no plan has been forthcoming.

What could a plan look like, if it does get announced this week?

Under the Stafford Act the president could sign an emergency declaration, a step usually reserved for natural disasters. The Federal Emergency Management Agency would then be able to access federal monies and waive regulations to get resources quickly to affected communities. Since several governors in affected states, who would have to request the money, have already made state disaster declarations, this might seem like the next best step.

The problem? It’s unclear whether or not such a declaration would be feasible in an ongoing crisis with no end in sight. The price tag could run into the billions and money could be drawn down for years.

Another option would be to declare a public health emergency. In that case, federal money would be dispensed through the Department of Health and Human Services. Existing new money available currently in the department’s budget, according to Politico, however, is only $57,000 — a drop in the bucket compared to the scope of the crisis.

The Health Department could utilize block grant monies, but that would involve diverting monies from existing programs.

The final option would be signing a largely symbolic order that simply directs relevant agencies to address the issue, but with no clear focus of authority or dedication of federal resources. This might prevent budget issues, but not actually make a significant difference in the trajectory of the crisis.

What do you think?

Which plan option do you think the administration should pursue? Or is there one not mentioned that you think would be the best course of action?

Tell us in the comments what you think, then use the Take Action button to tell your reps!

— Asha Sanaker

(Photo Credit: Eric Norris via Flickr / Creative Commons )

RELATED READING:

From Countable…

Opioid Crisis a National Emergency Says Presidential Commission

From Elsewhere…

Countable

Written by Countable

Leave a comment
(59)
  • R. ben
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Look, we have a serious opioids addiction in America. We need to get off opioids. We have the solution, canabis. Science has proven it is less addictive if any, and more effective than opioids.

    Like (22)
    Follow
    Share
  • Guy
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Why are we throwing money at the Opiod problem without making anything? OMG use our natural resources ... let’s grow sell and tax Marijuana already. It’s less harmful than tobacco or alcohol.

    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
  • NoHedges
    10/23/2017
    ···

    I would like a pragmatic plan that does not violate the 14th amendment the same way as every other plan this corrupt administration has proposed. Equal protection and enforcement of the laws is key to a well-functioning society. Start by holding big pharma responsible in a similar manner as the drug dealers. Senator 🌈Gillibrand offered a viable plan months ago and you lot sent it off to committee after committee. Stop 🛑 pretending to care about the American people and resign. You can still save your legacy if not your 💺 seat.

    Like (10)
    Follow
    Share
  • Sharon
    10/23/2017
    ···

    The powerful Pharmaceutical Corporations tricked Doctors into believing Opioids where non-Addictive in the 90’s! This resulted in prescribing Opioids for everything from tooth aches to post surgical procedures. Hence, the onset of Opioid Addiction that has merely increased each year. Now causing many folks that cannot afford medication to turn to illegal heroin. How about simply legalizing cannabis, proven to being effective in pain control and countless other maladies including PTSD! Oh wait...the Pharmaceuticals won’t be cashing in and getting folks addicted??? Oh my!

    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
  • Timothy
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Clear answer to problem of synthetic opioids - control the production and distribution by the handful of companies making them! Perhaps the White House and Congress should start by refusing the contributions from these companies. Easier to regulate them after they are kicked out of bed!

    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
  • Shane
    10/26/2017
    ···

    FDA where are you? What is purely a money making scheme by the pharmaceutical and medical industries has clearly taken advantage of people in pain. I'm sure they wouldn't sell the drug to cure the addiction at a crazy high price. What's that? They do? Oh well I'm sure the SG won't set higher punishments for drug offense. Oh he did? Well, I bet POTUS will fund this emergency and lay down the law on the pharm and drug corps. Oh, he won't? Well surely the congressmen and women will check the power and follow the constitution. Right? Right?

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Ticktock
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Up to this point Trump and the Republican Congress have been only willing to help those that they deem worthy of helping. Usually those with money. Let’s see if the help provided is for the wealthy or the middle class and poor. I know where I will place my bet if there is any help offered at all.

    Like (3)
    Follow
    Share
  • Dawn
    10/24/2017
    ···

    Regarding the opioid crisis: Please keep in mind people like me! I worked from the age of 13 to 46. At that age I had a herniated disc in my lower back. Two surgeries later and I was left with chronic right-on-the-edge of unbearable pain. In very rapid succession I acquired: Degenerative disc disease, Fibromyalgia, Lupus, Sjoegren’s syndrome, arthritis and especially severe bursitis. I took Norco for about ten years, it took the edge off, and I successfully weaned myself off it. But, I wouldn’t have (or wanted to ) survived without it. My fear now is that when I have to have surgery again, I will be UNDERmedicated and go through a ton of needless pain. It’s all very well for people to be against opioids, but my family and I, afflicted with many auto-immune diseases, NEED stronger pain control than normal people! NOTE: People with Fibromyalgia have amplified pain. What may be tolerable for many is not for us! It’s exceedingly hard to find a pain specialist who feels comfortable with prescribing what we need! Please think of this before you vote. Thank you.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • I.Got.an.Idea...
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Trump promises many things and never delivers, much like his many bankruptcies. I assume he may develop an elaborate plan that sounds plausible to addressing the opioid epidemic, but it will be bankrolled off the poor and middle-class, like everything else. Is the reason more prisons are not being built for these drug abusers, because most of the opioid epidemic victims are of a pale colored skin and considered by Conservatives as “TRUE” Americans...... just a thought....😲. You should could fill a lot of private prisons with 3-5 opioid abusers per cell and make a billion$$....and get the tax payers to fund all of the land acquisition and build them... pure profit for the investors....Sounds like a Republican plan to me.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • S
    10/27/2017
    ···

    Congress needs to pass legislation to control drug prices. They and the drug companies are only interested in the money. Republicans want to keep that drug train coming. They are as complicit as drug dealers when they permit drug companies to increase the price of generic drugs by 750%. Some cancer drugs have increased by 1950%. No, I didn’t forget to add the decimal point. It really is 750 and 1950. Congress is holding the needle ready for their next infusion. How much money would the country save by reasonable prices? If people can get a medication that costs $900 here for $16 in Canada the only motivation drug companies have is $$$$$. And Congress supplies the endorsement for legal price gouging. You should be ashamed. Pollute the air and water so people will need those expensive meds. That’s a good way to rev up the supply and demand.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Michael777
    10/28/2017
    ···

    All words, no meaningful action! How about we legalize medical cannabis so people would no longer need opioids to use as a high. It has been scientifically proven that cannabis is less deadly to you than aspirin even!

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Timnyc
    10/26/2017
    ···

    If this is a National Emergency which it sounds like it is according to the number of deaths. Than let’s make America great again? Stand up for the America people and fund it accordingly. Don’t just talk the talk drain the swamp and pay for treatment for Americans.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Benjamin
    10/23/2017
    ···

    I’m sure the plan will start with “I had no idea how hard it will be to stop the opioid problem. Who knew!” Until we get an FDA that can regulate anything (something this administration is loathe to do about anything) the problem will not go away.

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Claude
    10/23/2017
    ···

    Senator Rubio Trump has no idea what to do about opioid crisis and has appointed individuals to positions of power that also have no idea. This is a disaster that must be dealt with as part of the ACA BUT THAT RIGHT YOU WANT TO APPEAL IT. come on man start looking at the insurance companies and doctors where the real problem starts. Ow you get too much campaign money from these groups. START WORKING FOR THE PEOPLE AND NOT SPECIAL INTEREST

    Like (2)
    Follow
    Share
  • Chris
    10/24/2017
    ···

    Why are we 10 months into an administration and waiting for a plan that should have been developed and proposed more than a year ago, during the campaign?

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • RadicalModerate
    10/24/2017
    ···

    Big Pharma, paid at the office. The plan is to suppress natural cures and sling dope outta your corner pharmacy. Or straight from china to your mailbox. Business as usual for both parties.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Donna
    10/24/2017
    ···

    The government should consider this crisis an emergency (health, federal or otherwise) and immediately begin to help these people. It will cost money, lots of it. Congress should take a page from the past and hold big pharma and the distributors accountable, the same way the tobacco industry was held accountable in days past. There will always be people addicted to either alcohol, tobacco, oxy, heroin, etc. Some human brains are wired that way. That does not excuse the role the pharmaceutical companies, doctors and pharmacists had in growing this crisis to its current exorbitant level. Pulling all the drug commercials from broadcast stations will give the manufacturers a good base of $$$ to help clean up the mess they helped create. Getting big pharma money out of politics through huge donations to legislators and lobbyists will add even more to the pot. This is a problem. It needs to be fixed. Americans are dying. The responsible parties need to be held accountable.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Jonathan
    10/25/2017
    ···

    The “opioid crisis “ is a political invention that first worked well for politicians in Florida. Most people don’t understand much about any of their medications when the Info is readily available. So far the restricted access has done little more than make it more expensive for those who experience actual high levels of pain..and no weed does not ameliorate pain but more affects muscle tissue. If ignorant people want to crush and snort their oxycodone then charge them for the EMS wagon and the narcan. The whole thing’s a racket to fleece the poor that suffer on a daily basis with real debilitating pain. If all else fails just read the instructions (monograph).

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Tanua
    10/24/2017
    ···

    I have read a lot of comments. Yes there is an epidemic. I think the Bill protecting the pharmaceutical companies should be reversed. I don’t know why pharmacies that make you sign for narcotics are not catching this. If we can catch a criminal in a national data base registry then why can’t theses people giving and receiving the opioids be monitored? Are we that far behind? Give the man that had the DEA on the right track the job. Do you want to solve the problem or not. Don’t give the DHHR the money. They don’t even give drug test that they are suppose to be giving to people that get money already. I don’t consider marijuana a narcotic or hemp. Grow hemp take the money and pay for drug courts. Most drug court judges work for free. The United Way pays for recovering addicts to stay there while going through rehab, give them and rehab the money. There are a lot of kids in state foster home s because these users were not told in a family court what to do next. These people need direction. This involves millions of families, socially and economically. Most users from what I have read are not asked who the drug dealer was. Why not find out from these people before they go to long term rehab. Yes, Mr. President listen to the voters. Abraham Lincoln did.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share
  • Mark
    10/26/2017
    ···

    The FDA can’t control the illegal opioids, let alone the pharmaceutical industry.

    Like (1)
    Follow
    Share