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TRUMP EXPECTED TO LAY OUT HIS OPIOID PLAN
Record - 10/26/2017
Three months after Gov. Chris Christie handed him a turnkey plan to begin combating the country's opioid epidemic, President Donald Trump is expected to announce specific steps this week designed to address the deadliest public health crisis in a generation.
Christie, who is leading a presidential commission on opioid abuse, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that he has spoken with Trump about the drug crisis for years and that he understands its magnitude and the need for an aggressive federal response. Trump has not expressed that sort of urgency yet, saying only that he agrees with Christie's assessment that it is a national emergency but not taking the formal steps to declare one.
"I think tomorrow you're going to start to hear the real specifics on what a Trump administration's going to do to start to move this back," Christie said.
Christie's panel had delivered Trump an interim report on its work investigating ways to fight the epidemic on July 31. It sent him more than half a dozen recommendations that do not need the approval of Congress with the intention of seeing them implemented quickly.
That did not happen.
Christie has expressed frustration about the delays when asked, especially the failure to enact the commission's top recommendation to declare a national public health emergency. But he said he was told by the White House that the declaration was tied up in a legal review and that the delay was not the result of Trump's ambivalence.
Trump had said he planned to declare a public health crisis this week. And on Wednesday the White House press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said the president had plans "by the end of this week, and in the next couple of days" to announce specifics on his path forward.
"This is obviously a growing epidemic that the president is very committed to fighting against," Sanders said. "He has been working with his policy advisers and his team diligently and all the relevant components and agencies."
The death toll from heroin and prescription painkillers has reached unprecedented levels.
More than 52,000 people died from opioid-related overdoses in 2015, exceeding the number of deaths at the height the HIV/AIDS crisis. Last year's numbers are expected to be much higher. And Christie offered a note of caution Wednesday for anyone expecting to see Trump's action, whatever it may be, as a quick fix for a problem that began two decades ago.
"This problem's going to get worse before it gets better and it's going to take time for us to fix it," he said.