As both a former drug researcher, and former user, I am not in denial about the rising number of overdose deaths in the U.S. To sit and watch the Orange Killer in the oval office hold a “listening session” using the families of overdose victims and tearful recovering addicts as a front for his public relations scam made me want to puke. His announcement at the end of March that he is launching “The President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis,” flies in the face of his attempts to get rid of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in collusion with Republicans in the House and Senate—which would have dropped the addiction treatment mandate covering 1.3 million Americans.
Mother Jones has been on his case like white on rice. In “Remember When Trump Said He Cared About the Opioid Crisis? Fast Forward to Now” they point out:
The purpose of the commission, which will report to Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, is to write a report by October of this year on the status of the epidemic and make recommendations for the future, after which it will cease to exist. The Surgeon General’s office under President Obama published a very similar report last November. Trump has yet to appoint a “drug czar”, or director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, which is charged with evaluating and overseeing federal anti-drug efforts.
Meanwhile, Trump has repeatedly proposed taking resources away from the programs that could stop the epidemic. For example:
- The president’s proposed 2017 budget would cut $100 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s mental health block grants, which help provide substance abuse services across the country.
- His proposed 2018 budget would cut 16.2 percent of funding from the Department of Health and Human Services, the umbrella agency that funds things like SAMHSA and other mental health and substance abuse programs.
- The 2018 budget claims it would include a “$500 million increase above 2016 enacted levels to expand opioid misuse prevention efforts and to increase access to treatment and recovery services.” When pressed by Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.), HHS Secretary Tom Price admitted that this $500 million is reference to funding from the 21st Century Cures Act, which Congress enacted under Obama signed into law late last year.
- Though it didn’t ultimately pass, Trump was hard-set on repealing the Affordable Care Act, which would have left nearly 3 million Americans without often life-saving addiction treatment.