On Wednesday, President Trump is expected to officially declare the opioid epidemic a national crisis, but additional federal funding is still unknown. Critics say this action is long overdue. President Trump so far has only verbally called the opioid crisis a national emergency. But that was three months ago, and he never followed through with any executive actions.
Trump told reporters this week that he would make a “massive announcement” on the opioid crisis.
Ahead of Wednesday’s remarks, the president has had three meetings with his opioid commission since August. Following the meetings, members of the committee expressed to the Washington Post that they are not so confident the president will stick to his word and follow through with any executive action as the group has repeatedly recommended.
The epidemic has taken more than 64,000 lives in 2016 alone. Back in March, Trump created the Opioid Crisis Commission and called on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to head the mission that evaluates the opioid addiction and solutions. In July, the commission urged the president to take the next step and declare the opioid abuse in America a national crisis to allocate more funding and resources to states.
“The first and most urgent recommendation of this commission is direct and completely within your control, declare a national emergency,” the commission wrote to the president.
It’s estimated that opioid abuse cost the U.S. government more than $78.5 billion. Congress has taken some legislative actions with the passing of the 21st Cures Act and the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, but the commission argues that funding for these programs are not enough. The opioid crisis is costing states billions, and the additional funding through CARA and the Cures Act only supplements a small percentage of that cost. Opiate abuse, which is an addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin, kills more than 142 Americans a day due to overdose. Every three weeks the epidemic claims more lives than the September 11th terror attack.