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Maggie Hassan: Donald Trump ‘all talk, little action’ on opioids

February 1, 2018 GMT

President Trump has been “all talk, little action” on the opioids crisis, Sen. Maggie Hassan charged Thursday, citing his failure to outline specific policy or funding demands in his recent State of the Union Address.

Ms. Hassan, New Hampshire Democrat whose state is reeling from prescription painkiller and heroin use, is pushing for $25 billion in opioids funding as part of a looming spending deal.

She says the funding would help Mr. Trump implement his own recommendations for tackling the crisis and support his decision to declare the problem a public health emergency.

“But so far, despite support from our colleagues in both parties, Republican leadership has not agreed to such an increase in funding,” Ms. Hassan wrote in an op-ed for Time magazine. “That’s why we need the president and his administration to finally work with us to get these resources.”

Mr. Trump and congressional Republicans say they’re serious about tackling the crisis.

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Top House committees are launching a series of hearings on the topic, and Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri on Tuesday said Mr. Trump should lay down a clearer marker for funding.

Yet for now, Mr. Trump is training his sights on boosts for the military and border security.

His State of the Union Address called on Congress to set politics aside and bolster opioids treatment, while cracking down on drug dealers, though the issue played a bit role in the speech compared to the economy and immigration.

“He failed to call for a single additional dollar to address this crisis,” Ms. Hassan said. “In fact, while he gave lip service to the crisis, he did not name a single specific action his administration will take to combat substance misuse.”

The senator said she was skeptical of Mr. Trump’s commission on opioids at first. She felt people already understood the scope of the problem.

Yet there were good ideas in the final report, she said, from bolstering prescriber education to expanding medication-assisted treatment.

“To make these recommendations more than just words on a page requires follow-through, and critically, a substantial increase in federal resources,” she wrote in Time.