Please Mr. President, don't criminalize opioid addicts as part of emergency response

Ted S. Warren  AP

Ted S. Warren AP

Since 1999, the number of people who have died from overdoses of either prescription opioids or heroin has nearly quadrupled in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So it doesn't really mean anything that Trump has drawn a red line at North Korea "threatening" to attack Guam. Fortunately the attempts have failed, but President Trump now is talking about halting the federal subsidies to insurance companies with the stated intent to force a collapse of the ACA.

Trump has been escalating his rhetoric against North Korea, but says he hopes "it will all work out".

President Donald Trump took a welcome step this week to combat a deadly public health crisis - the widespread abuse of legal and illegal opioid drugs.

Responses from the 2015 National Health Interview Study showed that among adults aged 45 and up who were prescribed medication, adults with diabetes were 7 percent more likely to skip doses, 7 percent more likely to take less medicine, and 8 percent more likely to delay filling prescriptions to save money than others in the same age group who did not have diabetes.

Trump's comments are a bit surprising, given that on August 8, HHS Secretary Tom Price belittled the need for declaring it an emergency.

In five cases, the cause of death was unclear, but all occurred within a month or less of balloon placement, the agency said.

Advocates say that the opioid commission's recommendations reflect a dire need to treat the opioid overdose crisis as a health issue and not a criminal issue.

"Crises in a nation of 300 million people don't go away for $1 billion", Stanford drug policy expert Keith Humphreys previously told me, referring to the money Congress allocated for the epidemic in the 21st Century Cures Act.

There's no reason why politics can't be set aside to help address a serious problem that could get worse before it gets better.

Russia's foreign minister says the risk of a military conflict between the U.S. and North Korea is "very high". The summit will be held in November, and will be co-hosted by the U.S., along with India itself.

However, the public remains divided on how much the federal government should spend on fighting opioids. The change of scenery apparently helped.

And what will inform that decision?

"We're going to draw it up and we're going to make it a national emergency", said Trump. "I feel that they will be very safe, believe me", Trump told reporters Friday, with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley at his side. This may be the flimsiest, most foolhardy red line in presidential history. Nobody in the world, especially not North Korea, comes close to challenging our military capabilities.

Finally, when new policies are put into place to address the opioid epidemic, it's important to revisit these policies from time to time to make sure they are working and not having unintended consequences, Stein said. States could also use the emergency to ask for additional grants.

The United Nations has reacted by approving new sanctions against North Korea that passed muster with Russia and China, which is North Korea's major trading partner.

"I don't see a military solution and I don't think it's called for", said German Chancellor Angela Merkel. See Sunday's letters page in Newsday for three readers who want elected representatives to do something to stop the annoying calls. "But this is a national emergency and we are drawing documents now to so attest". If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.

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