President Trump today declared the opioid epidemic a national public health emergency under federal law, directing executive agencies to use every appropriate emergency authority to fight the opioid crisis. As part of the announcement, the president said his administration will be announcing a new policy “to overcome a restrictive 1970s-era rule that prevents states from providing care at certain treatment facilities with more than 16 beds for those suffering from drug addiction.” Trump said he expects the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis to deliver its final report next week. “After we review and evaluate the commission’s findings, I will quickly move to implement approximate and appropriate recommendations,” he said. In its draft interim report in July, the commission urged the president to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency, among other actions. AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack said, “We welcome today’s announcement of a public health emergency and the Administration’s efforts to enhance access to treatment. This declaration appropriately highlights the urgent need to act so that fewer of our fellow citizens are suffering. We urge the Administration and Congress to take needed steps, such as eliminating the barriers to treatment created by the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease exclusion, knocking down impediments to the appropriate sharing of patient substance use records, and ensuring that patients have comprehensive coverage that facilitates access to the services they need. We also urge full funding and implementation of legislation previously enacted to help end the epidemic. We stand ready to continue to work with the Administration, the Congress, and others in the health field in this important fight.”

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