Trump to declare opioid epidemic a public health emergency - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

Trump to declare opioid epidemic a public health emergency

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Arrangement of pills: opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen. (Patrick Sison/AP) Arrangement of pills: opioid oxycodone-acetaminophen. (Patrick Sison/AP)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -

President Donald Trump will use an event at the White House on Thursday to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency, according to White House officials. 

The move is different from the broad order Trump previewed over the last few months. The President, according to these officials, will direct acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to declare a public health emergency under the Public Health Services Act, which directs federal agencies to provide more grant money to combat the epidemic, not an order through the Stafford Act.

There will be no additional federal funding directed under this order, said an official, who stressed that the Trump administration will work with Congress to fund the Public Health Emergency fund and to increase federal funding in year-end budget deals currently being negotiated in Congress.

The officials pushed back against the idea that Trump's order is less sweeping than what he promised, arguing that while the Stafford Act would have allowed funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Disaster Relief Fund to be used to combat opioids, it wasn't the right designation.

"Under the Stafford Act, as unfortunately, we have seen on multiple occasions over the last several months, the Stafford Act is designed to respond to mostly natural disasters that are (of a) very short time duration and a specific geographic region," one official said, adding that the Trump administration believed the order under the Public Health Services Act is "a better use."

Trump's order will last 90 days and, according to another official, can be renewed every 90 days until the President believes it is no longer needed.

Since 1999, the number of American overdose deaths involving opioids has quadrupled. From 2000 to 2015, more than 500,000 people died of drug overdoses, and opioids account for the majority of those. Recently released numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that around 64,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2016.

Trump, after campaigning for president in part on fighting the scourge of opioid addiction, has long teased sweeping action.

"We are going to have a major announcement, on the drug crisis and on the opioid massive problem and I want to get that absolutely right," Trump said, billing the official declaration as a large step that took time.

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