The Trump administration is handing out $144 million in grants to combat the opioid epidemic — but officials still won’t say when or how the president plans to declare it a national emergency, as he promised last month.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House adviser Kellyanne Conway announced the grants during a visit to an addiction-treatment center in Delaware County on Friday, part of a listening tour on the crisis in opioid addiction.
But when asked why Trump has not formally declared a national emergency over the opioid crisis, Price said the administration was still “determining the formality of what that is.”
He said the president knows the crisis requires federal aid and support to state and local governments, and that HHS has been tasked with figuring out what options are available. He said he expected to be able to share details on such a declaration shortly.
Experts have said that declaring a national emergency, which would require a presidential directive, could free up federal funding and ease regulations so states can get more people into treatment, though some advocates have worried that the Trump administration might use emergency aid to step up law enforcement rather than public health measures.
Price and Conway said their conversations with treatment providers, law enforcement professionals, and people in addiction recovery at Mirmont Treatment Center in Media were productive, and that they would take the stories they heard to the president.
Price, a former Georgia congressman on his first visit to Pennsylvania as a member of Trump’s cabinet, said he supports local governments’ efforts to treat people addicted to heroin in ways that make sense for the community:…