President Trump, while on his “working” vacation at his New Jersey golf club, met with health officials on Tuesday to discuss the opioid crisis that plagues the country. The President was presented with recommendations to address the crisis compiled by a commission he organized.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price met with the President and other health officials to discuss the findings of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The commission established by President Trump is led by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R).
In a preliminary report issued by the commission, the members urge the President to declare a State of Emergency to help address the opioid epidemic. They said,
“The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act. With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks. “
In addition to declaring a state of emergency the report recommended:
- Rapid increase in treatment capacity and options
- Mandate prescriber education initiatives
- Immediately establish and fund an incentive to enhance access to Medication Assisted Treatment
- Provide model legislation to states for naloxone dispensing
- Fund law enforcement efforts to develop fentanyl detection sensors
- Provide funding and support for state data sharing for prescription drug monitoring programs
- Enforce the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)
President Trump chose not to declare a state of emergency as requested by his commission. Instead of focusing on the epidemic of overdose deaths, he chose to stress the importance of preventing drug use.
At his Bedminster, NJ golf club where the meeting was held, the President said,
“the best way to prevent drug addiction and overdose is to prevent people from abusing drugs in the first place.” He went on to say, “If they don’t start, they won’t have a problem. If they do start, it’s awfully tough to get off. So if we can keep them from going on — and maybe by talking to youth and telling them: ‘No good, really bad for you in every way.’ But if they don’t start, it will never be a problem.”
Secretary Tom Price later tried to defend the President saying that a declaring a state of emergency is typically reserved for “a time-limited problem.” He then said, “The president certainly believes that it is, that we will treat it as an emergency — and it is an emergency.”