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Trump declaring opioid crisis a 'public health emergency' a start

Trump declaring opioid crisis a 'public health emergency' a start

President Trump on Thursday declared the opioid epidemic a nationwide public health emergency.

A White House commission on the drug crisis had urged Trump to declare a national emergency.

In July, members of a White House commission on the drug crisis had recommended that Trump declare a national emergency. It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction, never been this way. A move for supplementary funding is expected to be a part of an end-of-the-year budget deal, which the Trump administration will have to negotiate with leaders on Capitol Hill.

With Trump's declaration, the USA federal government will waive some regulations, give states more flexibility in how they use federal funds and expand the use of telemedicine treatment.

Noting it's been three months since Trump said he'd declare a national emergency, Toledo Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur said she hopes his administration will follow through "without delay to use this order to provide relief to the millions of families suffering from this crisis". "And so the more we start moving into mainstream public health and personal health and medical financing, the sooner we'll be able to really generate the responses that people need". The emergency will last 90 days but can be repeatedly renewed.

The president shared a personal story of his experience with addiction, through his brother Fred, who struggled with alcohol.

"No part of our society - not young or old, rich or poor, urban or rural - has been spared this plague of drug addiction and this disgusting, awful situation that's taken place with opioids", Trump said at a ceremony in the White House East Room attended by families affected by opioid abuse, members of Congress and administration officials.

"We are here today because of your courage", the first lady told the audience.

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

So it's fair to say the Trump plan is an important but preliminary step.

Emily Spencer, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, also touted those efforts, which she said are starting to yield results.

- The federal government will allow states to temporarily shift the use of federal grant funds to target those with opioid addictions. And the public health emergency declaration is much more than a gesture. "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".

Dr. Clay Marsh, vice president and executive dean for health sciences at West Virginia University, said, "However you interpret the level of severity of this problem, as an emergency or urgent issue, it doesn't reduce the reality that West Virginia leads the country in opioid death". "We should not have to depend on repurposed dollars that take away from other health priorities".

To combat the epidemic, the president said the government would produce "really tough, really big, really great advertising" aimed at persuading Americans not to start using opioids in the first place, seeming to hark back to the "Just Say No" anti-drug campaign led by Nancy Reagan in the 1980s. The city is now paying $70 to $90 for a two-dose pack of naloxone, she said.

Capito said, "I think this takes a dramatic step forward in fighting this national crisis".

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