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Trump to Focus on Opioid Law Enforcement, Not Treatment

by Countable | 2.10.18

What’s the story?

In a speech in Cincinnati this week, President Donald Trump told a crowd that the opioid epidemic "has never been worse. People form blue ribbon committees. They do everything they can. And frankly, I have a different take on it. My take is you have to get really, really tough, really mean with the drug pushers and the drug dealers."

Why does it matter?

The "blue ribbon committees" Trump mentioned could be the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission, chaired by former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, issued over 50 recommendations—the administration followed up on only a few.

This has led to lawmakers and health care officials criticizing the Trump administration for a lack of action.

Former Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy, who served on the White House opioid commission, told NPR that he’s "incredulous."

"I mean this is just a mental health crisis of the first order. And this administration has done nothing."

What Has the President Done to Combat the Opioid Epidemic?

  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is allowing states to request waivers to use Medicaid to pay for residential drug treatment at certain facilities.

  • Trump signed the Interdict Act, which requires Customs and Border Protection "to increase the number of chemical screening devices available to CBP officers to interdict fentanyl [and] other synthetic opioids…that are illegally imported into the United States."

  • Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced earlier this week that Americans could combat the opioid crisis if they would take over-the-counter medications for pain and "tough it out." Sessions has also vowed to crack down on pharmacies and doctors who overprescribe opioids.

  • Trump promised he’d donate his third-quarter salary (around $100,000) to the Department of Health and Human Services for its fight against opioids.

What Are Critics Saying the President Hasn’t Done to Combat the Opioid Epidemic?

  • Though the president declared a public health emergency in October, he has yet to request any funds from Congress to combat the epidemic.

  • There is still no head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

  • The president hasn’t nominated anyone to head the Drug Enforcement Agency.

What do you think?

Is Trump correct in focusing on opioid law enforcement rather than treatment? Should the administration request funding from Congress to combat the epidemic? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: AppleZoomZoom / iStock)

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