Trump de­clares opi­oids a na­tional emer­gency

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL - As­so­ci­ated Press Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump de­clares the opi­oid cri­sis a na­tional pub­lic health emer­gency dur­ing a for­mal event in the East Room of the White House in Washington.

WASHINGTON — In ring­ing and per­sonal terms, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump pledged to “over­come ad­dic­tion in Amer­ica,” declar­ing the opi­oid cri­sis a na­tion­wide pub­lic health emer­gency and an­nounc­ing new steps to com­bat what he de­scribed as the worst drug cri­sis in U.S. his­tory.

Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion, which will be ef­fec­tive for 90 days and can be re­newed, will al­low the gov­ern­ment to re­di­rect re­sources, in­clud­ing to­ward ex­panded ac­cess to med­i­cal ser­vices in ru­ral ar­eas. But it won’t bring new dol­lars to fight a scourge that kills nearly 100 Amer­i­cans a day.

“As Amer­i­cans we can­not al­low this to con­tinue,” Trump said in a speech at the White House, where he be­moaned an epi­demic he said had spared no seg­ment of Amer­i­can so­ci­ety, af­fect­ing ru­ral ar­eas and cities, the rich and the poor and both the el­derly and new­borns.

Of­fi­cials said they also would urge Congress, dur­ing end-of-the year bud­get ne­go­ti­a­tions, to add new cash to a pub­lic health emer­gency fund that Congress hasn’t re­plen­ished for years. The Pub­lic Health Emer­gency Fund cur­rently con­tains just $57,000, ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices, a neg­li­gi­ble amount. Of­fi­cials would not dis­close how much they were seek­ing.

But crit­ics said the re­cent words weren’t enough.

“How can you say it’s an emer­gency if we’re not go­ing to put a new nickel in it?” said Dr. Joseph Parks, med­i­cal di­rec­tor of the non­profit Na­tional Coun­cil for Be­hav­ioral Health, which ad­vo­cates for ad­dic­tion treat­ment providers. “As far as mov­ing the money around,” he added, “that’s like rob­bing Peter to pay Paul.”

Demo­cratic House leader Nancy Pelosi called the new dec­la­ra­tion “words with­out the money.”

Trump’s au­di­ence 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 also spoke per­son­ally about his own fam­ily’s ex­pe­ri­ence with ad­dic­tion: His older brother, Fred Jr., died af­ter strug­gling with al­co­holism. It’s the rea­son the pres­i­dent does not drink.

Trump de­scribed his brother as a “great guy, best look­ing guy,” with a per­son­al­ity “much bet­ter than mine”

“But he had a prob­lem, he had a prob­lem with al­co­hol,” the pres­i­dent said. “I learned be­cause of Fred.”

Trump said he hoped a mas­sive ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign, which sounded rem­i­nis­cent of the 1980s “Just Say No” cam­paign, might have a sim­i­lar im­pact.

“If we can teach young peo­ple, and peo­ple gen­er­ally, not to start, it’s re­ally, re­ally easy not to take ‘em,” he said.

As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Trump had pledged to make fight­ing ad­dic­tion a pri­or­ity.

“When I won the New Hamp­shire pri­mary, I promised the peo­ple of New Hamp­shire that I would stop drugs from pour­ing into your com­mu­ni­ties. I am now dou­bling down on that prom­ise, and can guar­an­tee you we will not only stop the drugs from pour­ing in, but we will help all of those peo­ple so se­ri­ously ad­dicted get the as­sis­tance they need to un­chain them­selves,” Trump told a crowd in Maine weeks be­fore last Novem­ber’s elec­tion.

Once in of­fice, Trump as­sem­bled a com­mis­sion, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, to study the prob­lem. The com­mis­sion’s in­terim re­port ar­gued an emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion would free ad­di­tional money and re­sources, but some in Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion dis­agreed.

Christie, in a state­ment, said Trump was tak­ing “bold ac­tion” that shows “an un­prece­dented com­mit­ment to fight­ing this epi­demic and plac­ing the weight of the pres­i­dency be­hind sav­ing lives across the coun­try.”

Of­fi­cials said the ad­min­is­tra­tion had con­sid­ered a bolder emer­gency dec­la­ra­tion, un­der the Stafford Act, which is typ­i­cally used for nat­u­ral dis­as­ters like hur­ri­canes. But they de­cided that mea­sure was bet­ter suited to more short-term, lo­ca­tion-spe­cific crises than the opi­oid prob­lem. Drug over­doses of all kinds kill an es­ti­mated 142 Amer­i­cans ev­ery day.

As a re­sult of Trump’s dec­la­ra­tion, of­fi­cials will be able to ex­pand ac­cess to telemedicine ser­vices, in­clude sub­stance abuse treat­ment for peo­ple liv­ing in ru­ral and re­mote ar­eas. Of­fi­cials will also be able to more eas­ily de­ploy state and fed­eral work­ers, se­cure Depart­ment of La­bor grants for the un­em­ployed, and shift fund­ing for HIV and AIDs pro­grams to pro­vide more sub­stance abuse treat­ment for peo­ple al­ready el­i­gi­ble for those pro­grams.

Trump said his ad­min­is­tra­tion would also be work­ing to re­duce reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers, such as one that bars Med­i­caid from pay­ing for ad­dic­tion treat­ment in res­i­den­tial re­hab fa­cil­i­ties larger than 16 beds. He also spoke of ef­forts to re­quire fed­er­ally em­ployed opi­oid pre­scribers to un­dergo spe­cial train­ing, talked about the Postal Ser­vice and Home­land Se­cu­rity Depart­ment’s ramped-up in­spec­tion of pack­ages, the Jus­tice Depart­ment’s tar­get­ing of opi­oid deal­ers and ef­forts to de­velop a non-ad­dic­tive painkiller.

But Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, DConn., said the ef­fort falls far short of what is needed and will di­verts staff and re­sources from other vi­tal pub­lic health ini­tia­tives.

“Fam­i­lies in Con­necti­cut suf­fer­ing from the opi­oid epi­demic de­serve bet­ter than half mea­sures and empty rhetoric of­fered seem­ingly as an af­ter­thought,” he said in a state­ment. He ar­gued, “An emer­gency of this mag­ni­tude must be met with sus­tained, ro­bust fund­ing and com­pre­hen­sive treat­ment pro­grams.”

Democrats also crit­i­cize Trump’s ef­forts to re­peal and re­place the “Oba­macare” health law. Its Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion has been cru­cial in con­fronting the opi­oid epi­demic.

Adopted by 31 states, the Med­i­caid ex­pan­sion pro­vides cov­er­age to low-in­come adults pre­vi­ously not el­i­gi­ble. Many are in their 20s and 30s, a de­mo­graphic hit hard by the epi­demic. Med­i­caid pays for detox and long-term treat­ment.

Rep. Seth Moul­ton, D-Mass., said in a state­ment that many peo­ple ad­dicted to opi­oids don’t have in­sur­ance and more must be done to ex­pand cov­er­age.

“We can­not keep hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about gut­ting the ACA while si­mul­ta­ne­ously talk­ing about the opi­oid epi­demic. And we can­not de­clare a pub­lic health emer­gency with­out ac­tu­ally al­lo­cat­ing re­sources to help com­bat it,” he said.

Yo r k v i l l e Bapt i s t Church is host­ing an event on Satur­day called the “Un­der The Tent Event.” There will be a yard sale, a bake sale, Bos­ton butt bar­be­cue plates, and a car wash.

All f unds f rom t he event is go­ing towards the church’s build­ing fund and also towards the youth group at the church.

The “big white tent” will be lo­cated 6273 High­way 101 North, Rock­mart. Just be on the look­out for the big white tent on the side of the road.

The event will be hosted be­tween 8 to 3 p.m., and in­cludes all ac­tiv­i­ties be­sides the Bos­ton Butt BBQ plates, which starts at 11 a.m. and will run un­til the food is sold out.

If one would like to pre or­der food or buy a whole Bos­ton Butt for $35 dol­lars, the pre-or­der num­ber is 727-871-1739. Each plate is $ 8 and comes with a Bos­ton butt pulled pork sand­wich, baked beans, and slaw; soft drinks and other types of drinks will be avail­able also for choice.

The yard sale is open for peo­ple to do­nate items, and do­na­tions for any items ly­ing around the house are greatly ap­pre­ci­ated. Those int er­ested can con­tact 770-316-9242 to find out where or how you can send in items.

The car wash is be­ing run by the youth group of the Yorkville Bap­tist Church and will be ran by do­na­tions, with a min­i­mum do­na­tion of $5, in re­turn the group promised to make all cars look brand spank­ing new.

Edie Brown, wife of pas­tor Brown and the event’s or­ga­nizer, en­cour­ages the com­mu­nity to come out, have some fun, and eat some good food.

“This will just be a fun day for the whole church where we get to meet and love on the com­mu­nity while we try to raise funds to help ex­pand our church.” said Brown.

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