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Opioid Declaration: A Step In The Right Direction Or Empty Words Without Any Punch?

While some criticize the lack of money behind the Trump administration’s public health emergency move, others are excited for the light it will shine on the opioid epidemic.

The Wall Street Journal: Trump’s Opioid-Crisis Declaration Draws Praise, Criticism
Officials and activists on the front lines of the opioid crisis split Thursday over President Donald Trump’s designation of a “public health emergency,” with some praising it as a necessary move and others saying more money is needed. Ryan Hampton, a national recovery activist in Pasadena, Calif., who is personally recovering a struggle with opioids, called the president’s announcement “a welcome step in the right direction” but also said the president’s words require funding support. “The big, open-ended question, though, is will there be follow through, will there be action?” Mr. Hampton said. (Kamp and Mahtani, 10/26)

The Hill: Advocates Pan Trump Effort On Opioid Crisis 
Advocates for greater opioid treatment panned the president’s long-awaited declaration of a public health emergency, saying they need dollars to fight the epidemic killing tens of thousands of Americans every year. President Trump’s declaration, promised in August, doesn’t include millions in new federal funding. Nor did it ask Congress to appropriate any new money, and Democrats are calling for tens of billions in more funds. (Roubein and Weixel, 10/26)

NPR: ‘They Need Help’: Trump Faces Backlash For Slow Response To Opioid Crisis
The president’s announcement gives states more leeway to spend federal money in response to the rise in drug overdose deaths. It also broadens the reach of medical services in rural areas. “I think declaring an emergency is important, but it is not going to make much difference if we don’t actually put resources towards this public health crisis,” says Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. (Raphelson, 10/26)

CQ: Trump Declares Opioid Emergency, But Future Funding Unclear
“Where would this money come from? That’s really the point,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “Are we talking cannibalizing other aspects of the health care in our country?” In some respects, the public health emergency declaration could do just that. State employees with jobs funded by federal dollars usually have specific job descriptions, but the emergency declaration could make it possible for states to reassign them to focus on opioid prevention and treatment. The declaration would also allow states to use some of about $2.3 billion for HIV/AIDS programs and refocus it to prioritize the many HIV/AIDS patients who have co-occurring opioid use disorders. (Siddons and Rahman, 10/26)

The Hill: NH Dems Say Money Must Be Provided For Opioid Declaration 
New Hampshire Sens. Maggie Hassan (D) and Jeanne Shaheen (D) are calling on President Trump to pledge financial resources to combat the widespread opioid crisis, as he moves to declare the epidemic a public health emergency. “I’m pleased he’s designated this as a public health emergency, but I really want to see the resources that need to come in order for our communities and families in New Hampshire to be able to fight this horrible disease,” Shaheen said on MSNBC’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports,” in a joint interview with Hassan on Thursday. (Beavers, 10/26)

Stat: Markey’s $45 Billion Proposal For Opioid Treatment Has A Familiar Ring To It
The Trump administration’s announcement that it would declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency on Thursday begged an immediate question: Where’s the money to back it up? Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has a plan with an unlikely source. “Republicans are onto a very good idea in adding $45 billion to provide additional care and treatment for opioid patients,” he said, referring to a bill he introduced on Wednesday with Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and 13 other Democrats. (Facher, 10/26)

NPR: Trump Administration Declares Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of the Opioid Policy Research Collaboration at Brandeis University’s Heller School, calls the announcement “very disappointing.” Without funding for new addiction treatment, he says, declaring a public health emergency isn’t enough. “This is not a plan,” he says. “The administration still has no plan” for dealing with opioids, he says. (Allen and Kelly, 10/26)

Modern Healthcare: No New Funding In Trump’s Emergency Opioid Declaration 
Overall the declaration was seen helping raise public awareness. “We strongly support President Trump’s decision to officially label the opioid epidemic a public health emergency,” said Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) in an emailed statement. “As ground zero for this public health emergency, it is time West Virginia received the resources it deserves, and today’s action is a big step towards accomplishing that.” “Really, he’s going to be asking the entire government to get behind this effort,” said Tom Coderre, senior adviser at the Altarum Institute and a former chief of staff and senior adviser to the Assistant Secretary at SAMHSA during the Obama administration. “That’s the bigger message of today, but certainly the devil is always in the details.” (Johnson, 10/26)

The Hill: Christie: Trump’s Opioid Declaration ‘Exactly What We Asked For’
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Thursday praised President Trump’s decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, calling it “exactly what we asked for.” “The president, what he did today gives this Cabinet and the executive branch of this government every bit of authority they need to do whatever it is they want to do in concert with Congress to be able to do what needs to be done,” Christie told CNN following a ceremony at the White House. (Samuels, 10/26)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.

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