President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency in response to a reporter’s question during his 17-day “working vacation” in New Jersey, but his comment wasn’t backed up by a White House press release or statement, according to MPR.
“The opioid crisis is an emergency, and I’m saying officially, right now, it is an emergency,” Trump told a reporter.
The White House created a special panel to look into the opioid crisis, which recommended that Trump declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. In previous meetings with the press, the President has not used such bold language when referring to the opioid crisis.
If the opioid epidemic a national emergency, more federal funding would be available for programs designed to fight the problem, including treatment centers. The White House panel also recommended Medicaid recipients have access to addiction treatment.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates our sense of urgency to fight the scourge of addiction that is affecting all corners of this country,” Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, MD, said in a statement. “President Trump’s announcement further punctuates his clear commitment to combating this epidemic and I thank him for his leadership.”
Last week, Trump said that the opioid crisis could be “addressed without the declaration of an emergency.” Some states, like Virginia, have taken the initiative to declare the opioid crisis a state of emergency.