Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price says President Trump is not going to declare a national emergency for the opioid epidemic, stating the current crisis does not meet the criteria.
During a Tuesday press briefing held after Sec. Price had met with President Trump in New Jersey, Price said a declaration is unnecessary because the relevant responses are already in place.
“We believe at this point that the resources that we need, and focus that we need, to bring and to bear to the opioid crisis at this point can be addressed without the declaration of emergency,” Price said.
The opioid problem is widespread, with drug overdoses and abuse accounting for 62 American deaths each day.
Aside from hurting themselves, drug abusers put others at risk too. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System recently concluded that increased prescriptions of opioids accounted for increases in traffic accidents associated with the painkillers.
Declaring a national emergency would free up funds and allow health workers to waive red tape, a move recommended by an opioid commission convened by the president to study the problem.
Price said a national health emergency declaration usually focuses on a specific area, and is typically reserved for “time-limited’ problem, such as battling the Zika virus or Hurricane Sandy.
Price said the current strategy allows for the administration to address the problem without a declaration of a national emergency, but he clarified that despite this decision, all options are still open.
You can watch Price’s statements, as he’s joined by White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway, in the video clip below.
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