By Abigail Royle 3/15/2018
The Trump Administration is finally nearing the end of creating a plan it claims will solve the opioid crisis; and the proposal has been reviewed by many political officials this month. After his bold campaign promise to eliminate the opioid crisis, President Trump could announce his administration’s proposal as soon as Monday when he visits New Hampshire, a state hugely impacted by the epidemic.
The plan includes an array of different prevention and treatment measures, some of which may make officials reluctant to approve.
Among the numerous prevention measures outlined in the plan, a much anticipated proposal is the use of the the death penalty on drug dealers. “If you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty,” President Trump said earlier this month, “These people can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them.” Despite this and other statements Trump made justifying the death penalty, many officials are ambivalent about supporting it. Trump’s plan also calls for a minimum sentence for drug traffickers who knowingly distribute illegal lethal opioids. Other prevention measures include improving tracking systems to make it easier getting resources to areas suffering the most from the crisis, and limiting access to opioids by changing how the government pays for opioid prescriptions.
A variety of treatment measures are expected to be addressed as well. The plan supports increasing the access first responders have to naloxone, a drug that is used to reverse opioid overdoses. This may bring hope to lowering the number of opioid related deaths. The more progressive idea of immediately screening federal inmates for opioid use may also be considered, as it would allow more people to be placed into treatment at residential reentry centers. Another area that may be addressed is a law created 50 years ago that bars Medicaid payment at many large residential facilities that treat opioid addiction. Originally created to protect from people being institutionalized for mental illness, many believe this law is preventing people from seeking opioid addiction treatment.
However, the yet-to-be-finalized plan faces an uphill climb. Many officials do not support the death penalty for drug dealers. Certain public health officials instead believe funds to treat the crisis would be put to better use funding prevention and treatment programs. Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts fears, “We are still paying the costs for one failed ‘war on drugs,’ and now President Trump is drawing up battle plans for another.” Another issue is the plan’s price tag. It could cost billions more than what the president budgeted – thus, more than Congress would approve.