Trump's top health leader makes Ky. first stop after opioid emergency declaration

Published: Oct. 27, 2017 at 2:40 PM EDT
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The day after declaring the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency, the Trump administration made Kentucky its first stop to tout plans to combat the addiction crisis.

In an unpublicized visit, acting Health and Human Services Secretary Eric D. Hargan visited a Lexington clinic Friday afternoon to meet with doctors and recovering addicts.

“So you look at a place that’s been very affected and also a place where they are on the forefront of developing a lot of innovative collaborative solutions," Hargan told WKYT about his choice to visit the clinic in Lexington. "So you can put those two things together, and you can find messages, treatment and ways of dealing with it I think that can be applied nationally.”

On Thursday, Hargan declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency, as requested by President Donald Trump. The declaration does not provide any additional money to fight the opioid epidemic, but it does allow agencies to redirect resources.

“When the president tells us to focus on the problem, we focus on the problem,” Hargan said during his visit to Lexington on Friday. "Some of the things that I heard was that the need for resources. We heard loud and clear.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says more than 140 Americans die every day from drug overdoses - including 91 specifically from opioids.

Speaking at the White House Thursday, Trump vowed that the nation's opioid crisis "will be defeated." Trump was surrounded by people touched by addiction when he signed an order to make the problem a national public health emergency.

The president directed federal agencies to do everything in their power to combat the crisis. Trump said that includes a "massive advertising campaign" reaching out to young people to avoid prescription drugs.

Trump also said his administration will soon provide "relief" for state governments looking to access Medicaid funding for drug treatment centers with more than 16 beds.

Trump also promised more research funding for opioid alternatives.