Trump to declare opioid epidemic a national emergency

Saturday, 12 Aug, 2017

Days after sending mixed signals on his response to the nation's opioid crisis, President Donald Trump said Thursday that he plans to declare a national emergency to better address the epidemic.

Usually national emergencies are declared for short-term crises such as the Zika virus outbreak or a natural disaster.

He told reporters that the current swathe of addictions was on a scale never seen before in the USA, adding that he would shortly prepare documents to formalise the declaration of a national emergency over the issue. He expressed confidence in Health Secretary Tom Price to lead the attack on opioid addiction. "I have to say this in all fairness, this is a worldwide problem, not just a United States problem". This is happening worldwide.

Michael Nicholson, and addiction specialist with Rosecrance Milwaukee County, said, "we're grateful that our national legislators are recognizing this crisis and taking a stand and hopefully providing more access to funds to all treatment providers".

This is a developing story.

The crucial thing an emergency declaration does, he said, is mobilize resources and bring much-needed attention to the problem, especially in getting politicians, leaders and the public on the same page.

According to data from the Missouri Hospital Association, opioid-related inpatient hospital admissions and emergency room visits have more than doubled over the past decade.

Trump made no mention of the importance of increasing access to treatment in either of his statements on opioids this week, and has supported legislation that would impose severe cuts to Medicaid-which allows three in 10 people suffering from opioid addiction to get treatment.

"If it opens up more treatment beds, it's a good idea".

Right after a blustering challenge of North Korea to a potentially world-destroying face-off, President Donald Trump also tried to restart the war on drugs between holes of golf.

It could also press Congress to increase funding to fight opioid overdoses. Numbers for the previous year aren't yet available, but they're expected to be the worst on record.

"The opioid epidemic we are facing is unparalleled", the commission said in a letter accompanying its report to Trump.

For example, for every million Americans between 15 and 64 years old, 245 people per year die of drug overdoses.

The White House did not release any details about when or how the declaration would occur, but the move would likely free up funding for fighting the opioid problem and give relevant federal and state agencies more leeway and resources.