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