President Donald Trump will roll back his promise to declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency and will be instead announcing it as a public health emergency, according to a senior White House official.
“This will help prioritize in making sure all agencies are aware of the urgent need to combat” the opioid problem, a senior White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity told reporters Thursday.
A senior administration official claims this move will benefit those affected by the opioid crisis by allowing for the expansion of telemedicine, especially in rural communities. The official also billed a shift in focus within the efforts to address HIV/AIDS to be more inclusive of substance abuse as a product of the public health emergency announcement.
The declaration will provide no additional funds but will allow for a refocus of existing money toward helping those living with addiction. Public health emergencies last 90 days, with the option of continuous renewal. Other notable public health emergencies include H1N1, otherwise known as the swine flu, and natural disasters like the recent Hurricane Harvey that devastated much of Texas.
President Trump initially remarked on the severity of the opioid epidemic back in August, saying that “the opioid crisis is an emergency, and I'm saying officially right now it is an emergency.”