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Trump readies opioid plan, but some worry it won't be enough

27 October 2017

"Effective today my administration is officially declaring the opioid crisis a national public health emergency under federal law", the president said Thursday. He said the crisis had spared no segment of American society. "As Americans, we can not allow this to continue".

Georgia Department of Public Health Commissioner J. Patrick O'Neal, M.D. says, "We do not know specifically how this declaration will impact Georgia". "This declaration provides no new funding and no new treatment or prevention strategies".

White House officials said they would push Congress at its end-of-the year budget negotiations to add new cash to the public health emergency fund that Congress hasn't added to for some years.

The president's action also allows the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the ability to respond to the ongoing public health emergency.

Officials would not disclose how much they were seeking.

The Obama administration in 2015 started offering waivers that states could apply for so larger clinics get reimbursed, and at least four states have received waivers to improve access to treatment. "Next week, I'm going to (be) declaring an emergency, (a) national emergency on drugs".

"As far as moving the money around", he added, "that's like robbing Peter to pay Paul".

"It's a national emergency", Trump said at the time.

But Trump also laid out ways in which his administration would be attempting to combat the opioid epidemic.

For its part, Congress passed a pair of high-profile bills that expanded treatment options and the use of overdose-reversing drugs, while doling out $1 billion in state grants to combat the issue.

Opioids are a type of drugs that include illegal substances, such as heroin, and legal painkillers - medications such as oxycodone, codeine and morphine are all types of opioids.

The president made the crisis a primary talking point during his campaign for the White House and in March signed an executive order launching a commission led by New Jersey Gov. The commission's interim report - slated for next week - suggests the emergency declaration would free additional money and resources.

Senior administration officials stressed Thursday that the Trump administration has already taken steps to bolster the federal response to the opioid crisis.

The push for more spending to stamp out health crises threatens to revive partisan fights that loomed over spending battles ahead of the 2016 election, when Democrats pushed for more cash to deal with the opioids epidemic, Zika virus and lead-tainted water in Flint, Mich.

Trump's audience Thursday included parents who have lost children to drug overdoses, people who have struggled with addiction, and first responders whose have used overdose reversal drugs to save lives.

Trump readies opioid plan, but some worry it won't be enough