Trump's Vow on Opioid Crisis Creates Whole New Crisis
Trump promises emergency declaration next week, but officials have nothing
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 20, 2017 2:37 PM CDT
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in the Oval Office of the White House, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

(Newser) – "They are not ready for this," one public health advocate tells Politico. On Monday, President Trump said he would make an emergency declaration on the opioid crisis next week, promising "a very, very big statement" and "a very important step." Trump reportedly made the decision after Chris Christie told him it was "not good" he hadn't declared an emergency yet. But no one told the officials in charge of planning such a declaration, and now they're struggling to come up with something that matches the president's lofty promise. Officials at the White House, federal agencies, and the state level tell Politico there's no consensus on how to implement an emergency declaration when it comes to the opioid crisis or even if doing so is a good idea.

"Everyone wants opioids to be a priority, but there's a lot of resistance to calling it an emergency," one senior administration official says. Some are concerned about the cost and legal issues that would come with a declaration. Meanwhile, multiple sources say key people have yet to be asked to come up with a plan for an emergency declaration, and there's still no leadership at Health and Human Services, the DEA, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Homeland Security. A senior FDA official describes the situation as "such a mess." And there's still the possibility Trump doesn't follow through, having already failed to make a promised declaration in August. One senior health official says they will "believe it when [we] see it." Read the full Politico report here.

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