The White House’s commission on combating the opioid epidemic has recommended that President Trump declare a federal state of emergency to address the crisis, a potentially significant step for an administration that has repeatedly pledged to take steps to ease the epidemic, reports STAT.
“The first and most urgent recommendation of this Commission is direct and completely within your control. Declare a national emergency under either the Public Health Service Act or the Stafford Act,” the committee wrote in an interim report released yesterday.
The declaration would effectively nationalize a move that has already taken place in numerous states. Governors in Florida, Arizona, and Maryland have previously declared states of emergency, granting those governments access to millions of dollars and, in some cases, regulatory leeway in administering their responses.
It was not immediately clear whether or when the president would make such a declaration, and what it would mean for the federal government’s response to the opioid crisis.
Half of the roughly $1 billion Congress approved last year to address the opioid crisis as part of the 21st Century Cures Act was awarded in April, with a similar amount expected to be awarded next year. Most discussions of additional spending on the issue have focused on the Senate’s now-defeated health reform effort.
The five-member commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was established by an executive order in March. The White House said it would “immediately begin reviewing” its recommendations.