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Strong law enforcement needed to combat Opioid crisis
10 August 2017, 12:38 | Kara Nash
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President Trump declined Tuesday to declare the opioid epidemic sweeping the United States a national emergency, despite a recommendation last week by his own commission.
Experts have said that declaring a national emergency could help free up federal funding for states dealing with an overdose crisis that, the commission said, kills 142 Americans a day, though some advocates anxious the Trump administration would have used the declaration to return to policies similar to the war on drugs. Price, briefing reporters at a hotel about 15 minutes away from Trump's golf course, said numerous report's recommendations for increased funding and attention can be accomplished without such a declaration, which is normally reserved for a natural disaster such as a hurricane or for a morefocused public health problem such as an infectious disease outbreak.
Alaska Chief Medical Officer Jay Butler told me it's hard to say exactly how such a declaration could help his state without specifics from Trump, but predicted it would "open the possibly for a faster stream of resources" from the federal government to the state.
NBC News reported the commission recommended expanding treatment facilities across the United States, equipping police officers with the anti-overdose remedy Naloxone, and educating and equipping doctors on the proper way to prescribe pain medication. Both would have undercut Americans' ability to seek treatment for opioid addiction.
The opioid epidemic is widespread.
A state of emergency for the opioid crisis would likely be a little nebulous in its execution because the federal laws governing state-of-emergency status were designed for situations involving infectious diseases and natural disasters.
A formal declaration of a public health emergency - or a presidential emergency declaration - would give the administration additional powers to waive health regulations, pay for treatment programs, and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available.
"It's a problem the likes of which we have never seen".
"The best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place".
A reporter asked about critics' charges that Trump-backed healthcare legislation would cut funding for Medicaid and drug treatment programs. "We're not letting it go by..." The president reflected, for example, on preventing addiction by stopping the problem before it starts. The crisis, they said, has moved beyond politics. The commission recommended Trump immediately declare a national emergency, which would eliminate bureaucratic hurdles and greatly expand funding and access to treatment. Trump said that the solution is stepping up enforcement.
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