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Trump Unveils Three-Pronged Opioid Plan

by Countable | 3.19.18

What’s the story?

  • President Donald Trump was in New Hampshire on Monday, where he unveiled a new plan to tackle the country’s opioid epidemic.

  • "New Hampshire is one of the hardest hit states by the opioid overdose crisis, but obviously this crisis impacts everyone everywhere," senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway told reporters on Sunday.

  • The Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse focuses on three main elements:

Law enforcement and interdiction

  • The White House plans to seek the death penalty for drug dealers and traffickers "where appropriate by law."

  • At a White House opioid summit earlier this month, the president said:

"The administration's going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, and it'll be very, very strong. Some countries have a very, very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty. And by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do. So we're going to have to be very strong on penalties."

  • Trump is also calling on Congress to pass legislation to reduce the number of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for drug dealers.

  • Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have already announced plans to introduce legislation "aimed at fighting [the] opioid epidemic."

Prevention and education

  • Within three years, the White House seeks to cut the number of opioid prescriptions filled by one-third.

  • At the event, Trump added that the "Department of Justice is looking very seriously into bringing major litigation against some of these drug companies. We’ll bring it at a federal level."

  • Trump told the crowd at Manchester Community College that "90% of the heroin in America comes from our southern border" and building a wall with Mexico will "keep the damn drugs out."

  • The Trump administration’s plan also includes "scaling up research and development efforts, especially through a public-private partnership between the [National Institutes of Health] and dozens of pharmaceutical companies, to find alternative treatments for addiction through non-addictive pain management options," said Andrew Bremberg, director of the administration’s Domestic Policy Council.

  • The president and first lady Melania Trump – who joined the event in New Hampshire – have worked on an ad campaign. Trump said the ads would be "very, very bad" and "pretty unsavory" in order to scare children away from drugs.

Treatment and recovery

  • The White House is asking Congress to formally repeal a rule that banned Medicaid payments to residential treatment facilities with more than six beds.

  • The administration is encouraging states to adopt a drug-monitoring database that can be accessed nationwide.

  • The plan also calls for "screening every federal inmate for opioid addiction at intake, and for those who screen positive, working to facilitate post-release access to treatment at residential reentry centers, and connecting ex-offenders to community treatment services," Bremberg said.

What do you think?

Do you support the Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse? Is anything missing? Should anything be removed? Should Congress repeal the rule banning Medicaid payments to larger treatment facilities? Is there something else Congress should do? Hit Take Action and tell your reps. Then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: Stuart Ritchie / iStock)

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