On August 10, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency in response to a report from the Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This designation is typically reserved for natural disasters.
President Trump did not offer specific details on what the state of emergency would involve, but the authors of the report suggested that issuing this declaration would temporarily waive many of the regulations on federal funding and allow agencies to access federal disaster funds to pay for more resources to fight the opioid epidemic, including limited drug reimbursement from Medicaid.
Other recommendations from the interim report provided by the Commission included:
- increase treatment capacity by empowering the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to grant waivers allowing states to spend federal money on treatment services
- mandate prescriber education initiatives within medical and dental schools to enhance prevention efforts
- provide federal funding and technical support to states to enhance interstate data sharing among state-based prescription drug monitoring programs to better track patient-specific prescription data
- enforce laws requiring insurance companies to cover treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders
A finalized report from the commission will be published later this year.
Sources: CNN, August 11, 2017; The Washington Post, August 10, 2017; Congressional Quarterly, August 1, 2017.