Statement of Attorney General Josh Shapiro on President Trump declaration of public health emergency in opioid epidemic

October 26, 2017 | Topic: Opioids

HARRISBURG – The declaration by President Trump that the national opioid epidemic is a public health emergency is a step in the right direction for our country. As this epidemic claimed the lives of over 64,000 Americans and more than 4,600 Pennsylvanians last year, we need the federal government’s help and support on multiple fronts. Today is a beginning.

In Pennsylvania, I’ve led an effort of 39 Attorneys General and the National Association of Attorneys General that is urging Congress to change a federal law to allow more patients addicted to drugs to receive treatment in residential facilities. This IMD exclusion law, which bars Medicaid reimbursement in facilities with more than 16 beds, harms our efforts to help more people into treatment for addiction. The law must be changed.

We are hopeful the President’s declaration of a public health emergency and acknowledgment of the IMD exclusion problem will move the federal government towards eliminating this antiquated federal law for addiction treatment.

The President’s announcement today doesn’t carry with it any promise of meaningful additional funding, which is essential as we fight this crisis in Pennsylvania and across the country.  But it is, at least, a recognition by the administration that this epidemic, devastating so many American and Pennsylvania families, is a national crisis demanding a coordinated response from the federal government and all the states.

There is more work that needs to be done, in Pennsylvania and nationally, to end this epidemic. The president’s statement and declaration today, while overdue, is welcome news in our Commonwealth. We’ll continue our own work undeterred.

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