President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will officially declare the opioid crisis a "national emergency" and pledged to ramp up government efforts to combat the epidemic.
But while the Trump administration prepares the presidential order, governors in six states have already declared emergencies to deal with opioids.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price earlier this week seemed to suggest the president was leaning against the recommendation when he said the administration could deploy the necessary resources and attention without declaring a national emergency.
The report includes other recommendations but White House aides have said Trump has not decided which others to follow. "And you look at opiate abuse and addiction, and its impact on communities, it's really going to be a long term problem, and we need long term solutions", Moore explained.
According to the report, 142 people die every day from opioid overdoses, or the equivalent of the number of September 11, 2001, fatalities every three weeks. And in 2015, opioids (prescription and heroin) killed more than 33,000 people, more than in any other year on record, according to the CDC.
"The issue with looking at things as a national emergency or national crisis is that numerous times these are short term fixes". If somebody else uttered the exact same words that I uttered, they'd say, "What a great statement, what a wonderful statement".
The commission and the strike force also recommend increased availability of naloxone, an overdose counteragent commonly known by the brand name Narcan, and more funding to develop fentanyl-detecting sensors to prevent the powerful opioid synthetic from either crossing the US border or getting sent through the mail.
"To me it's an important step, [but] there need to be many steps after this", said Dr. Bradley Stein, a psychiatrist and senior physician policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization. This means money from the federal disaster-relief fund could be used to bolster efforts to treat opioid addiction or prevent misuse of these drugs, Stein said. What do you say to your critics who say that your rhetoric is actually raising the tension?
The declaration could also open up more resources for addressing the epidemic.
Fitzpatrick introduced the Road to Recovery Act in June that would permanently reverse the decades-old restriction on Medicaid, but the bill hasn't moved from the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
"It's a call to order and a call to action", says Clay Stamp, head of Maryland's Opioid Operational Command Center.
"We can't put things in place and walk away", Stein said.
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