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Trump Stops Short Of Declaring Opioid Crisis A National Emergency — Which Means No Extra Funds

Instead, President Donald Trump declared the epidemic a public health emergency, which is more limited status in terms of what federal and state officials can do to address the problem. Media outlets take a look at what exactly the move entails.

The New York Times: Trump Declares Opioid Crisis A ‘Health Emergency’ But Requests No Funds
President Trump on Thursday directed the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, taking long-anticipated action to address a rapidly escalating epidemic of drug use. But even as he vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country — a priority that resonated strongly with the working-class voters who supported his presidential campaign — Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare “a national emergency” on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue. (Davis, 10/26)

Los Angeles Times: Trump Calls Opioid Epidemic An ‘Emergency’ But Offers Few New Resources To Combat It
Speaking at the White House on Thursday, surrounded by the families of Americans touched by the epidemic, Trump insisted he is committed to an unprecedented new effort to take on the spread of opiates, including heroin, prescription painkillers and dangerous synthetic drugs such as fentanyl. (Levey, 10/26)

The Hill: Trump Says This Can Be Generation That Ends Opioid Epidemic 
“Nobody has seen anything like this going on now. As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” Trump said at a White House ceremony alongside advocates and his wife, Melania. “It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. … We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it,” he said to long, thunderous applause. (Roubein and Hellmann, 10/26)

The Washington Post: Trump Declares Opioid Crisis A Public Health Emergency; Critics Say Plan Falls Short
With Trump’s declaration, the federal government will waive some regulations, give states more flexibility in how they use federal funds and expand the use of telemedicine treatment, according to senior administration officials. But the president stopped short of declaring a more sweeping national state of emergency that would have given states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, as they would after a tornado or hurricane. Officials who briefed reporters said that such an emergency declaration would not be a good fit for a longtime crisis and would not offer authorities that the government doesn’t already have. (Wagner, Bernstein and Johnson, 10/26)

Politico: Trump’s Call To Bolster Virtual Opioid Treatment Lacks Muscle, Critics Say
The first item in Trump’s public health emergency declaration was to use telemedicine — video and phone-enabled communications with doctors, pharmacists and nurses — to remotely prescribe drugs for substance abuse and mental illness. Under a 2008 law, doctors have been barred from prescribing anti-addiction medications to patients they haven’t seen in person first. The law created a barrier for addicts in rural, doctor-starved places that have been hit hardest by the crisis — and that voted for Trump in droves last November. (Pittman, 10/26)

Bloomberg: Trump Declares Opioid Addiction A Public Health Emergency 
Trump also said he would use the federal government’s legal powers to pursue companies that helped fuel the epidemic. “We will be bringing some very major lawsuits against people and against companies that are hurting our people,” Trump said in a speech at the White House on Thursday. (Talev, Hopkins and Edney, 10/26)

Stat: Naloxone Is Missing Puzzle Piece In Trump Opioid Plan, Advocates Say
[Trump’s] announcement included nothing about access to naloxone, the overdose-reversal drug that first responders across the country have credited with saving innumerable lives. “I think this was a missed opportunity,” said Regina LaBelle, the chief of staff for the Office of National Drug Control Policy under former president Barack Obama. “They could have purchased naloxone and distributed it to hard-hit areas, to local governments as well as to community groups.” (Facher and Joseph, 10/26)

The Associated Press: Trump Calls For Liberation From ‘Scourge’ Of Drug Addiction
Trump’s declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources in various ways and to expand access to medical services in rural areas. But it won’t bring new dollars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 people a day. “As Americans we cannot allow this to continue,” Trump said in a speech Thursday at the White House, where he bemoaned an epidemic he said had spared no segment of society, affecting rural areas and cities, rich and poor and both the elderly and newborns. (Colvin and Johnson, 10/27)

The Washington Post: How The Government Can Fight The Opioid Epidemic Under A Public Health Emergency
At this point in the nation’s opioid epidemic, fighting back is mainly about quickly making money available: Money for treatment. Money for the overdose antidote naloxone. Money to hire more people to help overwhelmed cities and states battle a crisis that killed an estimated 64,000 Americans last year. President Trump did not identify any big new sources of funding when he declared the situation a  public health emergency Thursday afternoon. But his official pronouncement will help the government speed any available resources to communities, where the epidemic is playing out on the streets every day, and will eliminate some obstacles that stand in the way of providing assistance. (Bernstein, 10/26)

The New York Times: The Opioid Crisis: An Epidemic Years In The Making
The current opioid epidemic is the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Overdoses, fueled by opioids, are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old — killing roughly 64,000 people last year, more than guns or car accidents, and doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic did at its peak. (Salam, 10/26)

The Washington Post: ‘I Learned Because Of Fred’: Trump Cites Brother’s Struggle In Talking About Addiction
President Trump stood in the White House’s grandly decorated East Room on Thursday afternoon and read from a teleprompter as he explained how his administration will launch “a massive advertising campaign” to tell children to never try drugs. Then the teleprompter halted as the president went off script.“I learned myself. I had a brother, Fred. Great guy, best-looking guy, best personality — much better than mine,” Trump said, as those gathered in the room, many of whom have lost loved ones to the opioid crisis, laughed at the overly confident president’s rare jab at himself. “But he had a problem. He had a problem with alcohol. And he would tell me: ‘Don’t drink. Don’t drink.’ ” (Johnson, 10/26)

The Hill: Melania Trump Commits To Fighting Opioid Crisis
First lady Melania Trump made a rare public appearance Thursday to express her commitment to fighting the opioid crisis. “I have learned so much from those and I know there are many more stories to tell,” Trump said at a White House event declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency.” (Hellmann, 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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