The Trump administration recently declared the opioid crisis in the United States to be a public health emergency. According to Addictions.com, although this may have been done with good intentions, other actions could have perhaps been more helpful.
Declaring a public health emergency can benefit the country in its battle with the opioid crisis in a number of ways. In the first, it brings attention to a serious problem. Over 140 people die every day in the United States as the result of opioid overdose, which is a total that, every three weeks, is equal to the deaths caused by the 9/11 attacks. When the president discusses the issue and talks about the gravity of the situation, it allows more people to recognize the problem.
Also, the declaration allows for some changes in policy as well as the allocation of extra resources to be given to the problem at hand. Certain mandates that are related to health can also be removed in order to better handle the crisis. This can include changes like the allowance for Medicare patients to seek treatment outside their networks if they are suffering from opioid addiction.
Finally, the Trump administration has highlighted the ways in which they will use the declaration to provide the country with more resources to fight the opioid epidemic. The first is to offer telemedicine to isolated and rural areas that don’t normally receive the type of care necessary to fight such a serious problem. Many of these areas are the ones that were hit hardest by the crisis as well, so providing patients here with a new way to receive medical help could be beneficial.
The second is to speed up the process of hiring healthcare officials. The administration has promised to work with the Department of Health and Human Services in order to achieve this change. The idea is to ensure that more healthcare workers are trained and hired so that there can be more people to fight the opioid crisis in the United States.
The third is to offer grants to individuals who cannot find jobs due to their opioid addictions. This will require working with the Department of Labor, which has offered to provide more grants to people who can’t work, especially those who are unable to do so as a result of their addictions.
In a number of ways, the declaration and its implications can help those in this country affected by opioid addiction. However, there is a belief that a public health emergency is not enough to cover the scope of the opioid crisis when declaring a state of emergency can do so much more.
This belief does hold considerable weight, especially when a public health emergency only lasts for 90 days—compared to a state of emergency’s one year cycle—and because the opioid crisis is not something that has popped up overnight. Instead, it is a long-term issue that has multiplied over the years, killing more and more Americans every year since the mid 1990s.