President Trump to declare opioid crisis a national emergency

President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media aboard Air Force One before his departure from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Saturday, May 13, 2017. Trump is traveling to Lynchburg, Va., to give the commence address for the Class of 2017 at Liberty University. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(WKEF/WRGT) - President Donald Trump officially addressed the opioid crisis as a national emergency Thursday afternoon.

"The opioid crisis is an emergency. And I am saying officially right now: It is an emergency, it's a national emergency. We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," Trump told reporters at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

He said he'd be drawing up documents to formalize the declaration soon.

The presidential commission to address the opioid crisis had asked President Trump to declare a national emergency to help with resources for the epidemic August 1. They had released a report that said the death toll across the country equated to the number of fatalities on September 11 every three weeks.

One week after the report was released, the president said he would not declare the crisis as a national health emergency, saying that with the help of healthcare and law enforcement experts "we will fight this deadly epidemic and the United States will win."

By naming the crisis an emergency, Human Services Secretary Tom Price would have the ability to mobilize funds and resources to help governments across the country when it comes to fighting the epidemic. The Public Health Services Act or the Stafford Act would allow him to help these entities as they work to address the crisis, its cause, treatment and prevention.

Local lawmakers including Senator Sherrod Brown (D - OH), Senator Rob Portman (R - OH), Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and Attorney General Mike DeWine have issued responded to the president's announced intention:

“I'm glad Trump finally decided to listen to the leaders, health experts and everyday Americans who have been asking for help. Trump's presidency is at a defining moment. Declaring a state of emergency is a step forward, one that the City of Dayton took years ago, because this epidemic needs to be dealt with like a natural disaster.
"But this is only a start, Trump must make a genuine commitment to addressing this epidemic. That includes holding the big drug companies accountable. He cannot simply give lip service to the Americans who are dying and the families who are suffering because the heroin epidemic was largely created by drug companies. We deserve justice." - Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

“There is no doubt that this heroin and prescription drug epidemic is a crisis affecting our entire country, and I applaud the president for his decision to declare it a national emergency. While Congress has made some progress in addressing this crisis by passing the Comprehensive Addiction & Recovery Act and the 21st Century CURES Act, we can and should do more. We must continue to fully fund important programs on prevention, treatment, and recovery, and we must take additional legislative action to help stop overprescribing, increase the number of treatment beds covered by Medicaid at residential treatment facilities, and help stop the flow of synthetic opioids that are shipped into this country through the postal service. I was pleased the Trump Administration again endorsed the STOP Act in its interim opioid report last week, and I would urge the Senate to act on this bipartisan legislation soon.” - Senator Portman
“Communities across Ohio don’t need a declaration to tell them the opioid crisis is an emergency. While this is an important step, combatting the opioid epidemic requires more than words -- it requires meaningful action and investment. Law enforcement officers throughout Ohio have told me that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem. I hope that the Administration works quickly and prudently to finally take the steps necessary to call this opioid epidemic what it is – a national emergency – and follow-up with meaningful action and investment.” - Senator Brown

"I applaud President Trump for his plans to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency. Additional resources from the federal government will help hard-hit states like Ohio." - Attorney General DeWine
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