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Federal health officials ‘honestly don’t know’ what Trump will propose Thursday to fight opioid abuse

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Senior federal health officials say they have not been briefed about what President Donald Trump will announce on Thursday as his plan to fight the opioid epidemic, according to Politico.

The White House announced last week that Trump would be unveiling his plan to combat the epidemic of opiate drug abuse in the United States, but whatever the plan is, top-ranking personnel at the Department of Health and Human Services wish he’d tell them.

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“We don’t have information about what the announcement will be, and so I can’t comment on it. I honestly don’t know,” said Assistant HHS Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Elinore McCance-Katz to Politico.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, McCance-Katz said, has not been in communication with the White House about the speech or the president’s proposals.

Anne Schucha — Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — told Politico that she has no information about the project, but that the CDC intends to be involved “to an extent.”

The Trump administration said that it has consulted at least one federal health agency on how much funding will be required for the project.

Politico’s Sarah Karlin-Smith and Brianna Ehley quoted an HHS spokesperson who insisted that federal agencies — including HHS and SAMHSA — have been very closely involved in the Trump administration’s opioid crisis plan.

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“HHS has been working very closely with the White House on the event for tomorrow,” the official said.

Pres. Trump’s dogged insistence that he will “repeal and replace Obamacare” rankles many mental health professionals and addiction experts, who said that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has provided much-needed avenues to treatment and recovery for addicts and alcoholics who would otherwise be unable to seek treatment.

Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing executive director Andrew Kolodny told Politico, “If there is no money, I don’t believe that Trump is serious. We need real action. We need real money. I’m going to be very disappointed if they don’t propose something north of $1 billion.”

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“If the Trump administration wants to show they’re serious about this,” said Andrew Kessler of Slingshot Solutions, a behavioral health policy shop, “the proof will go well beyond whatever they announce Thursday.”

The anti-Obamacare House healthcare proposal made massive cuts to mental health and substance abuse programs, as did the so-called “skinny repeal” that failed in the Senate in July.

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2020 Election

Jeff Sessions ridiculed after losing GOP primary for his old Senate seat in Alabama

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Former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) attempted a political comeback by running in the GOP primary for the Senate seat he long held.

Sessions resigned the seat to serve as President Donald Trump's attorney general, before the two had a falling out.

"On Tuesday, Mr. Sessions lost the Alabama Senate Republican runoff election to Tommy Tuberville, a former Auburn University football coach whose platform was largely a blanket promise to support the president at all times," The New York Times reports. The Daily Beast also projected that Tuberville had won.

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Senior Trump advisor says a senior White House advisor ‘has been wrong about everything’

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On Tuesday, in an op-ed for USA TODAY, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro attacked the nation's foremost infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming that he "has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on."

"In late January, when I was making the case on behalf of the president to take down the flights from China, Fauci fought against the president’s courageous decision — which might well have saved hundreds of thousands of American lives," wrote Navarro. "When I warned in late January in a memo of a possibly deadly pandemic, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases was telling the news media not to worry."

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Texan who led neo-Nazi group guilty of ‘swatting’ Black church: report

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Federal authorities have received a conviction in case in a "swatting" case, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

"A founder and former leader of a neo-Nazi group has pleaded guilty to conspiring to place hoax phone calls targeting an African American church, a Cabinet official, journalists and others," the AP reported. "John C. Denton, 26, of Montgomery, Texas, faces up to five years in prison after entering a guilty plea Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria to conspiring to transmit threats."

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