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Trump's opioid addiction declaration is meaningless without funding, say NJ officials

29 October 2017

President Trump's declaration that opioid abuse is a national emergency comes without a lot of new resources for states to deal with the health threat.

By law, federal Medicaid dollars can not go to facilities that treat mental illness or substance use disorders if they have more than 16 beds, a policy that dates to a time when federal officials did not want to be in the practice of reimbursing state psychiatric hospitals. The declaration will also broaden the use of telemedicine and remove some regulations.

A Trump-named commission headed by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is expected to release a report on an overall strategy for combating the opioid crisis on November 1.

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, just as they would be following a tornado or hurricane.

"Many of the people we've seen, or had to turn away, are having trouble getting a doctor to prescribe Suboxone, or don't have a way to pay for it", she said.

Trump's declaration will allow the White House to tap into the Public Health Emergency Fund to address the crisis.

"With an emergency declaration, the Trump administration has an opportunity to chart a new course on the overdose crisis and reset its approach to drug policy", Grant Smith of the Drug Policy Alliance wrote Wednesday, calling for a shift from relying on law enforcement toward medical treatment of addiction.

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As a candidate, Trump promised to address the crisis, including by building a wall on the U.S. -Mexico border to stop the flow of illicit drugs, which he touched on in his speech.

The declaration does not unlock new funding, and there is $57,000 left in the public health emergency fund, according to The Hill.

Sununu issued a press statement following the announcement, in which he praised Trump's efforts as the first president to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Regarding funding to combat the public health emergency, she said, "We need more money, but we need a framework". "I hope to continue working with the administration in the coming weeks and months to increase funding for this battle and explore additional actions that can help save lives in Maine and across the country". "We should not have to depend on repurposed dollars that take away from other health priorities". The city is now paying $70 to $90 for a two-dose pack of naloxone, she said.

"To fully respond to this American crisis, we must use every tool at our disposal", he said.

He added, "I have spoken to the president in depth about this epidemic and the devastating impact it is having on our communities in OH and around the country, and I know he is committed to addressing it in a comprehensive way". Schools and health centers need to expand prevention education to all students.

Changing the policy entirely - which is known as the IMD exclusion - would take congressional action. "And this announcement does little to support any of them".

Trump's opioid addiction declaration is meaningless without funding, say NJ officials