APHA welcomes opioid emergency declaration, but plan falls far short of need

Date: Oct 26 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Megan Lowry, 202-777-3913

Statement from Georges Benjamin, MD, executive director, American Public Health Association

Washington, D.C., October 26, 2017 – “While we welcome today’s public health emergency declaration to address the nation’s opioid crisis, the president’s strategy as announced comes up short. Without an aggressive, comprehensive plan and significant boost in funding to prevent overdoses, assist addiction recovery and prevent new addictions, the declaration will fall far short of our country’s needs.

“Communities all across America are waiting for action. A crisis of this scale needs dedicated, generous funding and more importantly, a real evidence-based plan developed in concert with public health experts to prevent further death and harm.

“A comprehensive plan would increase health insurance coverage, especially Medicaid, and protect essential benefits so that victims of the crisis can access treatment. It would also use a systems-based approach to reduce the supply of opioids across the country, increase access to overdose reversal drugs and provide dedicated funding to health agencies responding to the crisis. The administration should also stop its attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, cut Medicaid and defund the Prevention and Public Health Fund.

“The administration’s declaration does include directions to increase access to telemedicine, allows the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to appoint specialists, allows the U.S. Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants and shifts funding for HIV/AIDS care to substance abuse. However, these changes are not nearly large enough to make a dent in this growing public health disaster.

“We hope that the administration will implement a more comprehensive plan in the coming weeks and work with Congress in a bipartisan manner to allocate additional funds so that our country can see immediate action to end this epidemic, as promised.”

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