Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards praised a decision by President Donald J. Trump to declare the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. President Trump also indicated that he intended to file a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers for their role in escalating the national crisis. In September, Gov. Edwards and the Louisiana Department of Health (LDH) filed a similar lawsuit. Gov. Edwards and Dr. Rebekah Gee, secretary of LDH, attended a listening session at the White House with President Trump today.
“I appreciate President Trump’s commitment to this issue,” said Gov. Edwards. “This problem has escalated in Louisiana at a rapid pace, and we are taking action to combat the opioid crisis. The president’s declaration will put more tools at our disposal, and will allow us to help more Louisianans who’ve fallen victim to opioid abuse. This is going to take time, and my administration and I are committed to working with the Trump Administration to provide assistance to as many people as we can.”
According to the White House, declaring a public health emergency will mobilize additional federal resources, including:
- Allowing for expanded access to telemedicine services, including services involving remote prescribing of medicine commonly used for substance abuse or mental health treatment,
- Helping overcome bureaucratic delays and inefficiencies in the hiring process, by allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to more quickly make temporary appointments of specialists with the tools and talent needed to respond effectively to our Nation’s ongoing public health emergency,
- Allowing the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers who have been displaced from the workforce because of the opioid crisis, subject to available funding, and
- Allowing for shifting of resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those programs receive substance abuse treatment, which is important given the connection between HIV transmission and substance abuse.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Louisiana Dept. of Health (LDH) show that the abuse of opioids in Louisiana is prevalent:
- Louisiana is one of 20 states with a significant increase in opioid deaths. (CDC)
- Louisiana had a 12 percent increase in deaths resulting from opioid overdose for 2014-2015. (CDC)
- Louisiana had 478 (17 per 100,000) fatal drug overdoses in 2014.(LDH)
- Data from 2013-2015 indicates there were 6,252 opioid-related substance abuse treatment admissions in Louisiana. (LDH)
- Since the Prescription Monitoring Program began monitoring narcotic prescribing behavior, Louisiana has averaged 110 prescriptions per 100 people. Meaning, we have more prescriptions for narcotics than we have residents. (LDH)