In October, during a press conference, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency.
“It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. It's never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic,” he told reporters.
Several weeks later though, two congressmen from Ohio, a democrat and a republican are saying show us the money.
Congressmen David Joyce (R – Painesville) and Tim Ryan (D – Youngstown) crossed party lines and drafted a letter to the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney, asking for comprehensive funding to fight the crisis.
The President’s declaration in October allowed for money to be pulled from the Public Health Emergency Fund. It turns out though, that fund has only $57,000 and has not been funded in years.
“We were troubled by the fact that no dollar of any substantial amount accompanied the president’s national declaration,” said Valeria Harper, CEO of the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board.
Thousands of organizations nationwide were, like the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board thrilled at the President’s declaration in October, but since, haven’t seen a dime or even heard where the money will be coming from.
“Of course, we were waiting with bated breath to hear this multimillion dollar allocation that would be earmarked only to address the heroin or opioid crisis and we didn't hear that,” said Harper.
“When the president came out and claimed that this is a public health emergency that gave us the opportunity to step up and say, great, let’s fund it,” said Joyce.
The letter, drafted by Joyce and Ryan, was signed by 12 representatives from Ohio, 50 total.
They now face an uphill battle though, the group wants the funding included in a budget bill that needs to be passed by the end of the year. Joyce though, saying that won’t be too likely.
“The end of the year is obviously coming up quickly and we’ve got a lot of things on our plate, I just want to make sure we’re a part of the discussion going forward,” he said.
Those working every day to stop the scourge though see the letter as one step in the right direction.
“With the acknowledgement and the awareness and the strong advocacy and strong voices, we’re very optimistic that some dollars must come down to support us,” said Harper.
The letter doesn't call for any specific funding amount but does point out, this crisis is costing the U.S. economy $272 billion a year.