Is President Trump doing enough to combat the opioid epidemic? | The Tylt
Is President Trump doing enough to combat the opioid epidemic?
Last year, President Trump officially declared the opioid epidemic a "national health emergency." Through the Public Health Services Act, Trump directed his acting secretary of health and human services to declare a national health emergency, according to CNN.
Senior White House officials told CNN that they will follow up this order by working with Congress to fund the Public Health Emergency Fund and to increase federal funding in year-end budget deals currently being negotiated in Congress. But both of those avenues are far from guaranteed, especially given all the other issues on Congress' plate.
In his announcement, President Trump called the opioid epidemic the "worst drug crisis in American history," and stated, "we can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic."
"Last year, we lost at least 64,000 Americans to overdoses. That’s 175 lost American lives per day. That’s seven lost lives per hour in our country. Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States by far."
"That is why, effective today, my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law, and why I am directing all executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis. This marks a critical step in confronting the extraordinary challenge that we face."
Watch President Trump's full remarks here:
But in the months since Trump's powerful declaration, critics point out he has done little to actually combat the crisis. As German Lopez of Vox explains:
There has been no move by Trump’s administration to actually spend more money on the opioid crisis. Key positions in the administration remain unfilled, even without nominees in the case of the White House’s drug czar office and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). And although Trump’s emergency declaration was renewed last week, it has led to essentially no action since it was first signed — no significant new resources, no major new initiatives.
If Trump truly cared about the epidemic, he would allocate resources and money to help end the crisis. Promises are meaningless if they are not backed up with real proposals and actual funding.
Advocates and experts argue about whether the extra resources should come through Medicaid, block grants for mental health and addiction care, or some other source. The consensus, though, is that much more federal support is needed — in the tens of billions of dollars over the next few years.
The fact that the Trump administration has continuously failed to take the crisis seriously sends a clear message to many: Trump is all talk and no action when it comes to the opioid epidemic.