A commission created by President Donald Trump to study drug use and deaths in America recommended today that Trump declare a national emergency over opioids.
"We need to have the executive branch, their departments, and the Congress completely focused on this issue as the national emergency that it is," Chris Christie, chair of the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, said today during a public teleconference. "We believe [declaring a national emergency is] the most important single recommendation that's made to set the right tone and approach to addressing this problem."
Other immediate actions the commission calls for include mandating doctors to get additional training before they prescribe opioid medications; requiring every licensed opioid addiction treatment facility to offer all three Food and Drug Administration-approved maintenance medications, not just one or two; and allowing more addiction-treatment facilities to take Medicaid. "We believe this is the single, fastest way to increase treatment availability across the nation because these beds don't need to be built," Christie said. "They're already there and can be occupied with the appropriate federal partnership with the states."
The last time officials declared a nationwide public-health emergency in the United States was in 2009, for the H1N1 flu outbreak. Over the past couple of years, however, various states have declared states of emergency over their own opioid overdose problems.
The call for a national emergency came as Christie and his colleagues unveiled their interim recommendations, as Trump had required when he created the commission by executive order in March. The commission was supposed to have published interim recommendations in June, but had to push back its deadline twice because it received so many public comments—more than 8,000, Christie said. A final report, with longer-term recommendations, is due in October.