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- 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.