Trump Touts Success Against Opioids During Funding Announcement

Alicia Ault

September 06, 2019

In announcing the awarding of almost $2 billion in federal money to help combat the opioid crisis, President Donald Trump said his administration has done well with its response.

"We've all done a very good job and numbers I think nobody would have believed when we started," said Trump, speaking at a briefing in the White House's Roosevelt Room. He and Health & Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar both noted the 5% decline in drug-related overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018 reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in July.

Opioid-related overdose deaths dropped by 2.8%, according to the provisional CDC data.

"My administration is determined to use every resource at our disposal to smash the grip of addiction," said Trump during the announcement on September 4. "By the end of this month, HHS will have awarded a record $9 billion to expand access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services to states and local communities," he added.

Trump noted that the CDC would be issuing more than $900 million in new funding for a 3-year cooperative agreement with states, territories, and localities, in part to increase the quality of surveillance and ramp up response times. Some $301 million is being distributed in the first year. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is awarding $932 million to all 50 states as part of its State Opioid Response grants.

"These funds will be delivered to the communities where the help is most needed," said Trump.

Some of the largest CDC awards, for instance, are going to hard-hit states and localities: $8.6 million to Ohio, and $5.3 million to Hamilton County and $3.9 million to Franklin County, both in Ohio. Pennsylvania is receiving $8.4 million and Philadelphia is getting $5.8 million. The funds will help state and local governments track overdose data as close to real-time as possible and support work to prevent overdoses.

Azar noted that overdose data had previously been reported with a 12-month lag time, but that thanks to efforts by the Trump administration, that lag had been reduced to 6 months.

SAMHSA is distributing the State Opioid Response grants, which were authorized and funded by Congress. Trump and Azar announced the amounts being awarded for the second year of the program, which will total $932 million. That is in addition to $932 million issued the first year and $485 million issued earlier this year as a supplement to the original grants.

The grants, awarded to all 50 states, Washington, DC, and US territories, support the provision of evidence-based treatment, including medication-assisted treatment.

"I feel very proud to be able to work in an administration with the president, with Secretary Azar, and with my colleagues that you see here who all have such dedication to helping the American people with a deadly problem," said Elinore F. McCance-Katz, MD, PhD, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use and head of SAMHSA, at the White House briefing.

"We'll continue to do that until we get this epidemic under control and until all Americans can be free of opioid addiction," said McCance-Katz.

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