Amid fanfare last year, President Trump ordered his administration to declare a public health emergency over the opioid epidemic. The Government Accountability Office says the Trump administration has made use of only three authorities created by the declaring of a public health emergency.
Amid fanfare last year, President Trump ordered his administration to declare a public health emergency over the opioid epidemic. “As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” Trump said “It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction.” A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at the results of that emergency declaration. The report found little came out of the declaration, reports Vox. GAO found that the declaration enabled the Trump administration to make use of three new authorities — clearing paperwork requirements for a survey of health care providers about addiction treatment, allowing two states to move forward faster with programs to address the opioid crisis, and expediting support for research about opioid addiction and overdoses. That’s not groundbreaking, particularly for an overdose crisis that’s broken records for overdose deaths year over year, reaching an estimated 72,000 in 2017.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), one of those who requested the GAO report, said, “I’ve asked this administration time and time again to show what actions they are taking to meaningfully address this crisis. No response. To me, it looks like empty words and broken promises. Hand-waving about faster paperwork and speeding up a few grants is not enough.” Trump’s emergency declaration is emblematic of the federal response to the opioid crisis so far: Despite a lot of promises and self-congratulating by the federal government on what it’s done, experts say that the White House and Congress need to go much further than they have so far, particularly when it comes to new dollars for addiction treatment. The Trump administration has only used three of 17 authorities that the GAO found in connection to the emergency declaration.