(NPR) More than three months after President Trump declared the nation’s opioid crisis a public health emergency, activists and healthcare providers say they’re still waiting for some other action.
The Trump administration quietly renewed the declaration recently.
But it’s given no signs it’s developing a comprehensive strategy to address an epidemic that claims more than 115 lives every day.
The President now says to combat opioids he’s focused on enforcement, not treatment.
Trump spent just over a minute of his 80-minute State of the Union address talking about opioids.
In a speech this week in Cincinnati, he had a few more comments.
The opioid epidemic, he said, “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.”
The President’s mention of “blue ribbon committees” sounds like a slam on one he convened last year, chaired by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie — the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis.
The commission issued more than 50 recommendations. The administration has so far followed up on just a few of those recommendations.
Here’s what the administration has done so far:
- President Trump declared a public health emergency in October to deal with the opioid epidemic. The declaration brought no new money to fund the federal response.
- In November, President Trump announced he’s donating his third-quarter salary — about $100,000 — to help the Department of Health and Human Services fight opioids.
- The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced a policy change in November that allows states to apply for waivers allowing them to use Medicaid to pay for residential drug treatment at facilities that have more than 16 beds. Some states are already taking advantage of that policy change
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