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Trump's opioid addiction declaration is meaningless without funding, say NJ officials

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U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone.
U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone. - ()

New Jersey politicians, as well as the head of one of the state’s largest addiction rehab centers, have said that President Donald Trump’s declaration of the opioid crisis as a National Health Emergency is largely meaningless.

James Curtin, CEO of addiction rehab network Daytop, which operates eight rehab centers in the state, said that Trump’s announcement needs to be accompanied by giving the U.S. Congress the power to give funding to opioid addiction treatment programs.

“This announcement makes me grateful that advocates for funding Opioid disorder treatments were heard, but bitterly disappointed that the solution was to play musical chairs with already stretched funds for general health initiatives,” said Curtin in a written statement.

“Declaring a public health crisis is a good first step. However, without giving Congress the broad-based power to infuse additional funding into opioid recovery and treatment services, especially in New Jersey, one of states hit hardest by the opioid epidemic, we are concerned that the pressure to maintain existing funding sources for currently operating programs will pit opioid disorder treatment programs against other worthy initiatives.  This will only exacerbate funding on all sides instead of allowing us to provide treatment … The death toll from our opioid epidemic rises at an alarming rate, and without new resources to fight it, we are going to lose more and more lives.”

U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ), along with Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), issued a joint statement calling Trump’s declaration ineffective.

“President Trump’s announcement falls far short of the recommendations of his own commission, and is essentially meaningless because it does not provide any new funding to fight an epidemic that is killing 91 Americans every day … Despite his previous claims that the opioid crisis is a ‘national emergency,’ the President’s announcement does not unleash the financial resources necessary to end this epidemic. Instead it simply allows the federal agencies to shift already limited resources away from other public health programs. This is not the way to fight an epidemic of this magnitude.”    

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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