Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have written a scolding and public letter to President Trump for not having declared a national emergency pertaining to opioids in a timely way. After they wrote the letter, they each produced press releases announcing their actions.
The letter says, in part:
“We applaud your stated commitment to addressing opioid addiction and agree with you that the crisis is a “serious problem” deserving of increased federal resources. However, we are extremely concerned that 63 days after your statement, you have yet to take the necessary steps to declare a national emergency on opioids, nor have you made any proposals to significantly increase funding to combat the epidemic.”
It’s not clear what such an emergency declaration would do. It’s never been done before for a self-induced drug epidemic. National emergencies have always pertained to war, weather, and contagion.
A declaration might add money for the distribution of the overdose tonic naloxone. But users just go back to using and naloxone is not addiction treatment.
It might mean health professionals start tussling for disaster relief funds that ought to be going to Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and helping the 3,000 California families who just lost their homes to wildfires.
Does Murkowski’s open hostility to the president advance Alaska’s interests?
Or has Murkowski squandered yet more of the good will she will need to get Trump’s wholehearted support for things like opening ANWR?
An ironic twist is that both Murkowski and Warren support Medicaid expansion, which has been linked to the increased use in opioids by Medicaid recipients, and has possibly contributed to the epidemic.
Medicaid provides money for some treatment for addicts, but also provides unlimited government funds that actually increase a person’s access to opioids.
This is especially true for Medicaid expansion states like Alaska, where able-bodied adults without children are the ones receiving greater access to opioids through a Medicaid expansion system that has no effective boundaries on these addictive drugs.