Indiana political and education leaders are praising President Donald Trump for declaring the nation’s opioid epidemic a national public health emergency. Governor Eric Holcomb and Senator Joe Donnelly both say it will take an "all-hands-on-deck approach" involving partners on every level to tackle the epidemic.
The declaration allows the federal government to take more measures to battle the opioid epidemic, such as expanding access to telemedicine services, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to make temporary appointments of specialists more quickly, and allowing the Department of Labor to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers displaced because of the epidemic.
The opioid crisis is the subject of the recently-announced third Indiana University Grand Challenges Initiative. Known as "Responding to the Addictions Crisis," the initiative will receive $50 million over five years for what is being called one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive state-based responses to the opioid crisis.
IU Vice President for Research Fred Cate issued a statement following the president’s declaration saying, "As an institution committed to preventing and reducing addictions in Indiana and beyond, we are encouraged to see the Trump administration taking steps to address our national opioid crisis. We are hopeful that the administration’s actions will allow our state and others greater flexibility to access federal funds as needed."
Cate says Indiana is one of four states where the fatal drug overdose rate has more than quadrupled since 1999. He says Hoosiers are now more likely to die from an overdose than a car accident.
Governor Eric Holcomb’s full statement, and the statements of other Hoosiers leaders are below:
I applaud the president’s decision to declare a public health emergency to address drug and opioid addiction. It will take an all-hands-on-deck approach with local, state and federal partners working together to attack this epidemic. Today, our state is engaging every resource at our disposal and using a three-pronged approach to tackle this problem with prevention, treatment and enforcement. This latest commitment from the president builds on our strong partnerships with groups like The Pew Charitable Trusts and Indiana University to multiply the impact of our efforts and save more Hoosier lives.
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN):
We know it will take an all-hands on deck approach at the federal, state, and local levels to combat the opioid epidemic. The President’s announcement is another important step in the ongoing effort to bring more awareness to this escalating crisis that has devastated families and communities across Indiana and our country. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in the Senate, and with President Trump, to provide the resources needed for prevention, treatment, recovery, and enforcement, and to move my bipartisan legislative proposals forward, including those that would increase access to telemedicine and address the shortage of providers treating substance abuse.
State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-31):
The opioid epidemic has impacted every household in our state and nation in one way or another. I am grateful President Trump declared a national public health emergency to combat this horrible disease. We are working diligently to kill this epidemic in Indiana, and now, we are finally addressing it on a national level. I commend the Trump administration for responding to and emphasizing the seriousness of this crisis.
You can read more about the president’s declaration by clicking here.