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Shelley Starkey

President Trump Announces Opioid Crisis Response Plan

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On Monday, President Trump unveiled his plan to put a stop to the opioid epidemic that claims thousands of American lives every year. The President’s plan addresses multiple contributing factors including: reducing over-prescribing of opioid pain killers, cutting off illicit drug supplies, improving access to evidence-based treatment and recovery services, and ramping up prevention efforts. It is unclear whether Congress will appropriate funding for these initiatives, as both chambers are currently considering their own strategies.

The plan, titled President Donald J. Trump’s Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand was announced during a speech in New Hampshire on Monday. Major themes from the speech include:

  • Reducing supplies of illicit drugs: Securing the borders and increasing criminal penalties for drug dealers and traffickers was a major focus of the President’s speech. “If we don’t get tougher on drug dealers, we are wasting our time, and that toughness includes the death penalty,” Trump said. He also referenced the border wall between Mexico and the United States – a major campaign promise – as a solution to stem the flow of drugs coming into the country.
  • Reducing demand and over-prescription of opioids: The President plans to launch a nationwide public awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription and illicit opioid use. The proposal also includes provisions for ensuring that prescribers that receive federal monies are using best practices, and seeks to establish a nationwide Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP).
  • Increasing access to addiction treatment and recovery supports: The President’s initiative seeks to expand access to evidence-based treatments, such as medication-assisted treatment. Additionally, the plan includes proposals to equip first responders with overdose-reversing medications, increase opportunities for justice-involved individuals to receive treatment and reverse a Medicaid payment prohibition – known as the IMD rule – for residential addiction treatment services at facilities with more than 16 beds.

“The plan contains some important steps that will increase access to effective, evidence-based treatment, particularly medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction,” said Chuck Ingoglia, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Practice Improvement at the National Council. “However, these are just first steps. More needs to be done to increase community treatment capacity and recovery supports.” The President will need to support of Congressional appropriators to see these initiatives enacted.

Read more on the President’s plan here, and read the National Council’s full statement on the matter here.