Senator Angus King released the following statement in response to the Trump Administration’s move to declare the opioid epidemic as a public health emergency:
“Opioid abuse is a slow-moving hurricane that envelops the entire nation, and with each loss leaves another community and family wrecked in its wake. The President’s declaration of a national public health emergency is a strong indication that this administration is turning its attention to the pain caused by this epidemic, but it should only be the first step. To fully respond to this American crisis, we must use every tool at our disposal. I hope to continue working with the Administration in the coming weeks and months to increase funding for this battle and explore additional actions that can help save lives in Maine and across the country.”
The President’s declaration of a public health emergency does not provide additional federal funding, but does allow federal agencies to redirect previously budgeted grant money to battle the crisis. This action is short of declaring a national emergency through the Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, which would have provided additional federal funding to address the issue and was promised by the President in August.
Senator King has been a leading proponent of providing additional funding to fight the heroin and opioid crisis, which kills more than one person per day in Maine. He has repeatedly called on Congress and both the Obama and Trump administrations to fund laws and agencies that help address the drug epidemic. This week, he joined with a group of colleagues to introduce the Combating the Opioid Epidemic Act, legislation that would invest $45 billion for prevention, detection, surveillance and treatment of opioids. He also recently wrote to President Trump urging him to allow the government to negotiate lower prices for life-saving opioid overdose reversal drugs like Naloxone.