The rest of the nation has known that opioids are killing us off at a deplorable rate for some time. But now that Trump has declared the opioid crisis “officially” an emergency, what will change? According to both his own plans and most sources outside his personal puppet show, very little, at least in a positive way.
Applause for speeches, not results
After a briefing by his Drug Committee, led by absorbed presidential failure Chris Christie, Trump paused his golfing long enough to emit blistering statements about the rampant opioid crisis. His lackeys chimed in accordingly, supporting his stance and posturing. Trump declared:
We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis.
With the government, however, that means nothing in the way of actually getting positive results. Look at the 40 year War on Drugs. Sessions, meanwhile, applauded Trump for “taking this drastic and necessary measure to confront an opioid crisis that is devastating communities around the country and ripping families apart.”
Christie cheered that Trump’s decision “deserves great credit”. But a decision and results are two far ends of a long road.
How he’ll “fix” the opioid crisis
Almost within the same breath, Trump declared opioids a crisis, then pointed the finger as far away from the source as possible. The New Yorker threw this up in neon lights by noting,
The opioid crisis, he said, is the fault of the Mexicans and the Chinese, who allow drugs to be sent from their nations to ours. The metric that he offered for success in handling the problem domestically was the number of federal drug prosecutions brought and the average length of prison terms they produced.
He echoed Jeff Sessions‘ call to the failed policies of the past, saying the problem could be avoided by telling young people that drugs are “no good, really bad for you in every way.”
The agencies that could help, the National Institutes of Health and the CDC, are facing proposed budget cuts from Trump. In addition, his Obamacare replacement proposals include cuts to Medicaid, reducing the availability of treatment options.
What a declared emergency could do
An actual declaration of a state of emergency, as opposed to simple platitudes towards one, could do a lot. As Forbes outlined, it grants several powers and options for real help:
- Grants waiver approvals for states to include treatments not already approved by Medicaid
- Establish and fund federal incentives to increase access to medication treatments
- Provide models for states to dispense anti-overdose medicines at lower costs and as an addition to high-risk prescriptions
- Support development and use of fentanyl detection equipment at borders and by government agencies.
- Fund increase of interstate prescription monitoring programs
- Implement protections for patients to encourage them to seek help without fear of repercussions.
Why Trump won’t get anything done
Trump’s 200 plus days in office show that the only strategy he has so far is to protect big businesses. From the appointments of major players from private roles to public offices and his derailing of the very agencies that offer the most potential help, healthcare isn’t on his agenda.
With him in office, the spotlight won’t hit pharmaceutical giants pushing these addictive and deadly substances through lenient practices. It looks only to shine on small illegal players and foreign countries where we hold little sway. Those diplomatic assaults only further economic strategy, not health based decisions.
The only addiction Trump’s presidency shows promise of alleviating is America’s addiction to empty political promises, through overdose.