President Trump’s Opioid Emergency Not Official
On August 10, President Trump announced that the opioid crisis was a national emergency, which was the priority recommendation in the preliminary report submitted by his Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis issued in July. However, the president hasn’t yet signed a formal declaration and sent it to Congress. “Relevant monies won’t be released until such a thing is signed,” said Northwestern University law professor Eugene Kontorovich. A White House spokesperson did not say when a signature could be expected. “The president recently instructed his administration to take all appropriate measures to confront the opioid crisis,” the spokesperson said. “Right now, these actions are undergoing an expedited legal review. In response to the delay, Senators Durbin (IL), Brown(OH), Manchin (WV), Booker (NJ), King (ME), Portman (OH), Capito (WV), and Collins (ME) urged President Trump to lift the Medicaid Institutions for Mental Disease (IMD) Exclusion for residential substance use disorder treatment as part of his opioid emergency declaration. In May, the senators introduced the bipartisan Medicaid Coverage for Addiction Recovery Expansion (Medicaid CARE) Act, which would modify the IMD Exclusion – a policy created in 1965 that limits Medicaid coverage for substance abuse treatment to facilities with less than 16 beds. The Medicaid CARE Act would expand it to 40 treatment beds. Additionally, the Medicaid CARE Act establishes a new $50 million youth inpatient addiction treatment grant program to fund facilities that provide services to underserved, at-risk Medicaid beneficiaries’ younger than 21, with an emphasis on rural communities. The bill would also increase flexibility for pregnant and postpartum women who are seeking treatment.