- President Donald Trump promised a disaster declaration next week for the nationwide opioid crises.
- Department of Health and Human Services officials were unprepared for the announcement.
President Donald Trump shocked federal officials on Monday when he said the administration would be presenting a disaster declaration for the nationwide opioid crisis, according to a report from Politico.
“That is a very, very big statement,” Trump said in a press conference this week. “We’re going to be doing it in the next week.”
But officials at the Department of Health and Human Services, which is now absent a confirmed secretary after the resignation of Tom Price last month, were blindsided by Trump’s statement and are now hastily trying to prepare a plan.
“They are not ready for this,” a public health advocate told Politico after talking to Health and Human Services officials who are working on the effort.
A senior administration official told Politico that “legal and budgetary” obstacles are what is holding back a formal disaster declaration.
“Everyone wants opioids to be a priority, but there’s a lot of resistance to calling it an emergency,” the official said.
Federal officials told Politico that there’s no consensus on how to implement an emergency declaration for a drug epidemic. A senior official at the Food and Drug Administration described the efforts as “such a mess.”
New Hampshire Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat whose state has been ravaged by the opioid epidemic, called Trump’s lack of response to the issue “completely disorganized.”
“No matter how many times [Trump] promises action ‘next week,’ the fact is he has no plan to combat the opioid crisis,” Hassan wrote on Twitter on Friday.
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