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    Trump declares Opioid ‘National Emergency’: 3 healthcare impacts

    On August 10, President Trump announced that he is drafting paperwork to declare the country’s opioid crisis a national emergency. His statement was made on the heels of a report by the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, which urged Trump to do so. “With approximately 142 Americans dying every day, America is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks,” the report states.

    "We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis. It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had,” Trump stated at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, during an impromptu press briefing.

    “Declaring the opioid epidemic a national emergency more closely resembles a public health emergency, except that those emergencies typically are in effect for 90 days and relate to infectious diseases or bioterrorist attacks,” explains Janice G. Jacobs, managing director in Berkeley Research Group’s Health Analytics practice, a healthcare consultancy. “The opioid epidemic is a long-term problem that relates to behavioral health issues and will be difficult to eradicate since it involves psychological as well as physical therapies.”

    An example of a national emergency and public health crisis occurred in Puerto Rico with the Zika virus and the widespread concern of a potential pandemic. “The crucial part of this declaration is that it mobilizes resources and brings noteworthy attention to the problem,” says Sherry Ellis, LICSW, ACSW, chief operating officer, Spectrum Health Systems, Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts.

    Doug Tieman, president and CEO, Caron Treatment Centers in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, points out that the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis included a variety of recommendations that the Trump Administration would be able to immediately enact as a result of declaring a national emergency.

    The federal government should learn from states that have already implemented public health emergencies to address the opioid crisis, including Maryland, Massachusetts, Alaska, Arizona, Virginia, and Florida, he says. “These states provide a model for using public health emergency declarations to implement new prescription guidelines for healthcare professionals and expand educational programs about addiction. They also increased access to treatment including medications for addiction treatment and broadened availability of emergency tools such as naloxone, a medication used to revive someone who has overdosed. These combined efforts can make a significant impact in saving lives.”

    So what exactly are the implications of such a declaration, and how would it affect healthcare?

    Next: Three outcomes that healthcare experts have identified

     

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