Experts weigh in on President Trump’s opioid crisis declaration

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind - There’s been a mixed bag reaction to President Trump’s decision to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Since Thursday, some have praised the move while others have criticized it for being mostly bark with little bite.

University of Indianapolis Public Health Professor Kara Cecil says the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

“It’s just one step, which is positive, but it’s not enough, “she said.

 A lot of the criticism surrounds the president’s decision to declare a public health emergency and not a national emergency, which he has said he would do in the past.

 The public health emergency declaration opens up access the public health emergency fund, though that fund is all but depleted and currently holds roughly $57,000.

However, congress does have the ability to replenish the fund with $45 million a year.

On the other end of the spectrum, a national emergency declaration would have provided states with access to billions of dollars in federal funds.

Which experts say is needed to truly mount a defense against opioids.

As it stands, Cecil says the ball is in congress’s court.

“Congress will have to allocate more money into that fund in order for it to trickle down into the states or to the states that request help,” she said.

Cecil says the declaration contains other benefits such as the giving of leeway to states on how to use federal grants to target opioid addiction.

“This is one step in the right direction and we need to continue the effort with funding for facilities to treat addiction, funding for the clinical treatments needed like methadone,” she said.

Addiction treatment providers like Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne also tout the declarations ability to remove the stigma of opioid addiction, while also sounding the alarm for a untied approach amongst other treatment providers.

“It’s the very first step in getting the message out and getting everybody in the medical fields on the same page; and making patients being aware this is a medical disease and that opioid addiction is not a moral failing or an issue of character,” he said.

While Mangiacarne does acknowledge the increased need for monetary resources, he says for now the focus needs to be on providing long term strategies for a long term problem.

“It’s a chronic disease, a chronic medical condition; it needs to be treated that way,”  he said.

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