President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency on Thursday but requested no additional funding for it, freeing up only two cents in funding for each person affected. "It is time to liberate our communities from the scourge".
Interested in Opioid Epidemic?
By law, federal Medicaid dollars can not go to facilities that treat mental illness or substance use disorders if they have more than 16 beds, a policy that dates to a time when federal officials did not want to be in the practice of reimbursing state psychiatric hospitals.
Officials who briefed reporters said that declaring that sort of emergency is not a good fit for a longtime crisis and did not offer authorities that the government doesn't already have.
The last time that a national public health emergency of this scope was called in the USA was in 2009 in response to the H1N1 influenza virus. A public health emergency myst be renewed every 90 days until it's no longer needed.
The president shared a personal story of his experience with addiction, through his brother Fred, who struggled with alcohol. Trump also said he would expand telemedicine to address the crisis in rural areas and act to suspend a rule that prevents Medicaid from covering drug-rehab services. A statement from Christie said the commission will give Trump "an even more comprehensive set of recommendations" to fight opioids in a report to be issued November 1.
"No part of our society - not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural - has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this frightful, terrible situation that's taken place with opioids", Trump said at a ceremony in the White House East Room attended by families affected by opioid abuse, members of Congress and administration officials.
The WVU official said, "It is still our opportunity as a state, as a community, to start to care for these people".
But the plan does allow those who can't find jobs because of addiction to get Dislocated Worker retraining grants that now go to people who are laid off. The Department of Health and Human Services might also waive limits on Medicare paying for addiction treatment in working age adults to facilities with 16 or fewer beds, a boost to the recovery industry.
- The Department of Labor will make Dislocated Worker Grants available to those with opioid addictions and others who were dislocated by this health crisis or who have had trouble finding work due to their addiction. "I'm pushing the Senate to act as quickly as possible on four bipartisan bills, including the STOP Act to help stop unsafe synthetic drugs from being shipped into our country; the Prescription Drug Monitoring Act, which will help stop overprescribing; the Medicaid CARE Act to lift the cap on Medicaid funding for mental health and substance abuse facilities and the CRIB Act to help newborns born dependent on drugs recover".
Trump opted to declare the crisis a public health emergency instead of a national emergency, which was an option his opioid commission recommended.
But she pointed out that after hurricanes and other national disasters, billions of dollars in relief is quickly made available to victims.
"It's a first step, but if we're really serious about this momentum really has to build from here", said Andrew Kessler, who runs Slingshot Solutions, a consulting firm that specializes in substance abuse policy. The city is now paying $70 to $90 for a two-dose pack of naloxone, she said.
The president had said as early as August he would be declaring a "national emergency", which many interpreted as his commitment to authorize a presidential emergency under the Stafford Act or the National Emergencies Act.