- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Trump administration doled out nearly $2 billion Wednesday to track the opioid crisis and help states tailor treatment programs to their needs.

President Trump said the twin pots of money are “very exciting” and will make an immediate impact.

“They’ll be used to increase access to medication and medication-assisted treatment and mental health resources, which are critical for ending homelessness and getting people the help they deserve,” Mr. Trump said from the White House’s Roosevelt Room.

The Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration is divvying up $932 million among all the states and several U.S. territories. It’s the second round of grants tied to sweeping opioid legislation that Congress passed on a bipartisan basis last year.

“Different states have different needs and different resources of their own. The structure of these grants recognize that,” Health Secretary Alex Azar said.

“Starting with the initial grants last year, however, we did impose one requirement: that treatment providers funded by these grants must make available medication-assisted treatment, which is the gold standard of treatment for opioid addiction.”

Also, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using $900 million over three years to help state and local governments track overdoses. Roughly $300 million will be disbursed in the first year of the program.

Mr. Azar said the nation faced a 12-month lag time in reporting overdose data when Mr. Trump took office, though it’s down to six months. He said the grant money should help states direct their resources more effectively.

Mr. Trump has made the opioid fight a signature issue. He declared drug addiction a public health emergency in late 2017, and he’s pressing China to rein in shipments of synthetic opioids before they reach U.S. communities.

“It’s something I saw firsthand during the campaign. And I couldn’t believe, when I looked at certain states in particular, how bad it was,” Mr. Trump said.

The president also touted a new campaign ad to prevent young people from using drugs in the first place.

Mr. Azar said provisional data show some progress — there was a 5% decrease in drug-overdose deaths from 2017 to 2018.

“But we know we have more work to do,” the secretary said. “More Americans still need treatment. More Americans need support in entering recovery. And more needs to be done to prevent Americans from becoming addicted in the first place.”

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