Governor Wolf Statement on President Trump Declaration of Opioid Epidemic as Public Health Emergency

October 26, 2017

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today issued a statement in response to President Trump’s declaration of the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency.

“President Trump’s decision to declare the opioid epidemic a public health emergency is an important step, but this is only the beginning,” said Governor Tom Wolf. “The president’s repeated calls to dismantle the Affordable Care Act puts the very Americans he aims to help through this declaration in jeopardy. My administration will continue to put our full effort into fighting this crisis, and I hope the Trump Administration will do the same.

“Without a commitment to fund the crisis in specific ways, it’s difficult to say how much this declaration can do. While an awareness of this critical health emergency is important, an increased availability of grant money would help. Every effort to fund treatment, including medication-assisted treatment options, should be explored.

“Federal, state, and local governments must work together to quell the growing impact of the heroin and opioid epidemic on American families and communities and ensure that the people we serve can access evidence-based treatment programs that make recovery possible.

“The primary recommendations the President’s commission made in August track closely with the progress we’ve made in Pennsylvania, including increasing treatment options through Medicaid and Medication-Assisted Treatment, expanding opioid education and training for health professionals, and establishing a Naloxone standing order.

“In Pennsylvania, our efforts to save lives and get people into treatment are making a difference. With 13 overdose deaths each day, a sense of urgency is vital and will continue. That’s why Pennsylvania has a standing order for naloxone, why we instituted a 24-hour help line that is connecting people in need to treatment, why we’ve used CURES grant funding to fund community medication-assisted treatment programs, why we’ve opened 45 Centers of Excellence to provide community-based, focused treatment across the commonwealth, and why I have asked the Pennsylvania General Assembly to pass pending legislation that will aid in combatting this crisis.

“I urge President Trump to consider initiatives that can have a more immediate positive impact on this crisis. Too many families are being torn apart by this epidemic and it is causing real pain for law enforcement, health professionals and all of our communities. In Pennsylvania, we’ve seen that this epidemic does not see Republican or Democrat, and neither should our national response.”

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