Federal Public Health Emergency on Opioid Crisis Set to Expire Later this Month

In October, President Donald Trump directed the acting director of the Department of Health and Human Services to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. That emergency declaration is set to expire in approximately 10 days on January 23.

The declaration has permitted public health agencies to redirect existing resources to address the crisis, eliminate or reduce “bureaucratic delays” in hiring personnel, and expand access to telemedicine. However, reports indicate little consequential action has been taken by the Trump Administration since the emergency declaration was made. President Trump has not formally proposed any new resources or spending related to the opioids and it is unclear what actions federal agencies have taken to address the crisis.

Outside of the emergency declaration, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched an opioid awareness campaign and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new 30-day injectable treatment for addiction. Health officials and policy experts indicate billions of dollars in new funding are needed to significantly address the opioid crisis. The Public Health Emergency Fund, which is available to HHS under the emergency declaration, continues to have a balance of just $57,000.

President Trump’s emergency declaration can be extended for an additional 90 days past its current January 23 expiration. However, it is unclear at this time if the declaration will be renewed by President Trump or the HHS Acting Secretary Eric Hargan.