Although President Trump promised the American people last week that he would soon declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, neither he or his advisors have any idea what kind of steps the White House will need to take to tackle the issue. Officials claim to have been blindsided by Trump’s opioid crisis declaration.
Sources close to the situation say that Trump completely blew his advisory team out of the water last Monday when he told reporters that his administration would begin addressing the opioid problem sometime next week.
However, federal health officials remain unclear about how to address this all-important issue and say, “they are not ready for this,” according to a report from Politico.
How to Declare an Opioid Emergency in the United States
Indeed, the president seems to have been talking out of both sides of his face when he announced that the federal government would have an implementation effort in place within the next several days designed to put a leash on the nation’s lust for prescription painkillers. But many of the agencies involved in the process, including the White House itself, admit there is no consensus for how to put this genie back into the prescription bottle.
In August, Trump gave a solid indication that he was on the verge of proclaiming the opioid crisis a national emergency. But despite the recommendations from the president’s opioid panel, which includes New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, the administration has failed to come up with a viable solution for getting a handle on America’s casket before it goes into the ground.
One White House official, who was kept anonymous in the report, allegedly told the news source that “legal and budgetary restrictions” were causing “a lot of resistance to calling it an emergency.”
Although the federal government is well versed in how to use emergency declarations to clean up a variety of horrendous affairs, including disasters as a result of hurricanes and disease outbreaks, never in history has Uncle Sam been forced to use this popular function to try and prevent thousands more of its citizens from dying at the grips of opioid addiction.
When taking this into consideration, it is not too much of a stretch to suggest the Trump administration is simply staring down at a mostly blank page labeled, “How to Declare an Opioid Emergency in the United States,” just trying to conjure up an angle that makes sense.
“I would hope that the agency heads had been asked to formulate a plan, and if they haven’t by now, it’s hard to believe there will be substance to any announcement made next week,” Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing at the FDA, told Politico journalists last Friday.
Potential Routes The Feds Could Take
The report goes on to show a couple of ways the Trump administration may opt to handle the opioid epidemic.
It could employ the Stafford Act, which allows governors to apply for special assistance, or the White House could just declare it a national health emergency.
Both methods have worked to some degree with respect to other national catastrophes, but funding is limited, and, once again, these resources have never been utilized for the purpose of saving the country from drug addiction.
Perhaps the next move might be for Trump to pressure Congress to redistribute funds from existing federal grants—an option some advisors are reportedly leaning toward.
Final Hit: Officials Blindsided By Trump’s Opioid Crisis Declaration
Still, health officials say, “there are no silver bullets,” when it comes to stopping this problem from escalating further into the depths of destruction.
Opioids are now killing more people every year than the whole death toll of the almost two-decade-long Vietnam War. The CDC reports that more than 64,000 people lost their lives to opioids in 2016, most of which were due to the abuse and misuse of prescription painkillers.
So, while there are a handful of theories floating around out there about how to gain back the control lost to opioid addiction, one of which includes the legalization of marijuana, even the wisest portion of the American population remains stumped on how to put a lid on the estimated $300 billion painkiller industry in a capitalist nation.