January 22, 2018
President Trump Extends Declaration of Opioid National Emergency
On Friday, January 19, Health and Human Services (HHS) acting Secretary Eric Hargan signed an extension of the opioid public health emergency issued by President Donald Trump for another 90 days, effective Wednesday, January 24.
Last summer, President Trump unofficially declared the opioid crisis a national emergency, which was made official on October 26, 2017. The original declaration was for 90 days and this new action demonstrates that a public health emergency still exists nationwide. This designation gives federal health agencies authority to quickly hire more treatment specialists and reallocate money to strengthen the response to the opioid abuse epidemic.
The initial designation followed the release of the White House Opioid Commission's Interim Report, which discusses strategies for addressing the nation's opioid epidemic. The Commission’s report stated several reasons why the declaration would empower the President and his cabinet to use every tool at their disposal to prevent any further deaths and "take bold steps to deal with this loss of life." ASA, with other members of the Pain Care Coalition (PCC)— the American Academy of Pain Medicine and the American Pain Society— submitted formal comments (link) to the President’s Commission, applauding their comprehensive approach.
In November 2017, the Opioid Commission released additional recommendations for addressing the opioid epidemic in its final report and more recently, the Administration released a document outlining the Trump Administration’s response to the opioids crisis.
Physician anesthesiologists are uniquely positioned to have an impact on the opioid crisis, with a deep understanding about the intricacy of post-surgical pain and alternative treatment options to best manage this pain; they also specialize in pain medicine to treat complex patients affected by ongoing chronic pain. ASA is already working on an initiative to reduce opioid use throughout the perioperative period and upon discharge, partnering with the hospitals of Premier Inc. ASA physician-members are providing education on best practices on opioid pain management, including the safe use, storage and disposal of opioids, and the prevention of opioid misuse and abuse post discharge.
ASA is committed to finding solutions to the opioid epidemic and will continue to work with partner organizations, federal agencies and Congress to implement change.