BEDMINSTER, N.J. (USA TODAY) — President Trump intends to declare a national emergency in response to the opioid crisis, he said Thursday.
“We’re going to make it a national emergency," Trump said from his New Jersey golf club. "It is a serious problem the likes of which we have never had."
Trump said he is "drawing documents now" to officially label the crisis as a national emergency.
A formal declaration of a public health emergency — or a presidential emergency declaration — would give the administration additional powers to waive health regulations, pay for treatment programs, and make overdose-reversing drugs more widely available.
However, earlier this week, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said the administration has the resources it needs to combat the epidemic without invoking the emergency powers.
On Tuesday, Trump stressed the importance of prevention and law enforcement in another briefing on the opioid crisis, but stopped short of declaring the state of national emergency that his own opioid commission has recommended.
"The president certainly believes we should treat is as an emergency, and it is an emergency," Price told reporters after meeting with Trump. "Look, when you have the capacity of Yankee Stadium or Dodger Stadium dying every single year in this nation, that's a crisis that had to be given incredible attention, and the president is giving it that attention."
An interim report from a White House commission issued last week called for a national emergency in response to the opioid epidemic.