(BOSTON) Statement of Alice Dembner, program director, Substance Use Disorders Project, Community Catalyst, regarding President Donald Trump’s remarks today declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

“President Trump’s declaration today that the national “opioid epidemic” is a public health emergency is a small step forward in addressing the widespread misuse of drugs and alcohol that kills far too many in our country and disrupts our communities. The declaration, as implemented by his health secretary, will allow short-term changes in some federal rules that restrict access to treatment that Americans desperately need. These changes – allowing more telemedicine and access to residential programs — are important. But unfortunately, they will not make much of a dent in the problem that is far greater than the opioids alone.

“The declaration does not release the major infusion of funds needed to fight addiction. It doesn’t include any bold new strategies. Meanwhile, the president is still trying to destroy the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and slash Medicaid, sabotaging programs that provide the life-saving health services that Americans need to fight addiction and other illnesses. 

“We call on the president to provide what our nation truly needs – and what experts have repeatedly said is essential: a fully-funded long-term comprehensive public health strategy to fight addiction that doesn’t just wait to intervene when people are overdosing. This strategy must include prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, a full range of treatment and recovery supports. It must reach people affected by every type of substance misuse in every community. And it must end criminal justice policies that lock up people with addictions, rather than provide them the services they need to live healthier lives.

“The president must stop his attacks on the ACA and instead promote funding and services that will help every American live a life free of addiction and illness.”


About Community Catalyst

Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable, quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit www.communitycatalyst.org. Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.