On Thursday, President Donald Trump will use an event at the White House to publicly announce the opioid crisis as a national epidemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, raising this issue to emergency levels.
This announcement comes several months after President Donald Trump said he would designate the crisis a national emergency, but failed to do so, according to CNN. He also campaigned on the issue heavily during the 2016 election.
However, during a press conference last week a reporter prompted the President about his plans to address the issue, to which he responded, “We are going to have a major announcement, probably next week, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem and I want to get that absolutely right.”
45 declares “opioid epidemic” a public health emergency when he was just proposing a 95% budget cut to NDCP funding https://t.co/9QMwG6TIxY
— B.I.E. Felicia (@FeministaJones) October 26, 2017
The key takeaway from today’s announcement will be funding. According to CNN, President Donald Trump will, “direct federal agencies to provide more grant money to combat the epidemic, not an order through the Stafford Act.”
This has already sparked criticism, as many advocates and officials were hoping for something with greater impact and the use of federal funds to aid this important problem. Under this new plan acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan will declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act which in turn will direct federal agencies to provide more grant money to fight the new epidemic, according to NPR.
The CDC reports that more than 64,000 people died of drug overdoses in the United States in 2016 with a large number of those individuals overdosing on synthetic opiods, painkillers like Percocet or OxyContin or heroin. As Vox notes, the death toll from overdoses is “a higher death toll than guns, car crashes, and HIV/AIDS ever killed in one year in the US, and a higher death toll than all US military casualties in the Vietnam and Iraq wars combined.”
The order that President Donald Trump will declare can be renewed every 90 days, until he no longer deems it necessary.