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Trump Promises an End, or 'Extremely Big Dent' in Drug Addiction

Certain estimates place the number of opioid deaths at more than 115 every day. The National Institute on Drug Abuse claims 72,306 people died from drug overdoses last year alone. States and even Native American nations have filed lawsuits against drug manufacturers and pharmacies for flooding the streets with prescription pills.

So, this week President Donald Trump signed an expansive set of legislation aimed at addressing the opioid crisis. "Together we are going to end the scourge of drug addiction in America," Trump asserted. "We are going to end it or we are going to at least make an extremely big dent in this terrible, terrible problem."

Ends and Dents

The new legislation will:

  • Expand addiction treatment and create comprehensive opioid recovery centers;
  • Lift certain restrictions on Medicaid and Medicare coverage, for treatment;
  • Speed up research on alternative drugs;
  • Provide Medicaid funding to treatment centers with more than 16 inpatient beds; and
  • Add $6 billion in funding to fight opioids.

"Experts in the field tell us that is not nearly enough," Senator Maggie Hassan told NPR. "We have to treat this as a starting point. We have a lot more work to do." Some proposals have placed the amount needed to effectively combat the opioid crisis closer to $100 billion over ten years, and after many fits and starts, the Trump administration has yet to outline a definitive drug policy, or even install a director of its Office of National Drug Control Policy after nearly two years in office.

The Enemy of My Enemy...

Still, the bill garnered rare bipartisan support in Congress. "Because of the severity of the crisis, and particularly in states like mine, people are willing to work together and join hands and figure out how to solve it and forget the politics," said one of the bill's chief proponents, Ohio Senator Rob Portman. "It will help in terms of both reducing some of this poison coming into our communities, but it also helps with regard to getting people into treatment."

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