MANCHESTER, NH – On Aug. 9 Gov. Chris Sununu sent a letter to President Trump focused on the need for the federal government to take action steps to promote stability and provide a “clear roadmap forward” in managing the rising cost of health care in the face of an opioid epidemic.
Sununu on Friday sent a second letter to President Trump in as many days, this one written from a more personal perspective, focused on the human suffering connected to the state’s opioid epidemic, “the individuals who have been lost and the families that have been destroyed,” and vowed to do “everything that I can to bring this crisis to an end.”
The governor also urged Trump to consider the “size of our problem,” not the size of our population, when allocating resources, should the opioid crisis officially be declared a “national emergency.”
So far, no such formal declaration of a public health emergency has been made by Trump’s administration. If and when that happens, there are specific actions that would follow, according to this NHPR analysis:
- FEMA money could be made available to states under provisions of the Strafford Act for emergency relief.
- Public health workers could be diverted from other grant-funded research and projects to address substance abuse issues
- Access to medication-assisted treatment could be expanded, including lifting restrictions on doctors ability to administer methadone or buprenorphine to patients with opioid addictions.
- Restrictions on where Medicaid patients can get inpatient treatment could be waived, making it easier to get into treatment programs.
- Congress may feel pressure to exercise its authority to appropriate money for expansion of treatment and intervention
- States could request federal grants for specific purposes to aid in tracking and responding to the crisis.
Sununu’s letter underscores his intention to leverage such federal grants, should they be made available.
“We have doubled our state resources to support prevention, treatment and recovery, dedicated millions of additional dollars to law enforcement efforts to keep drugs out of our state, increased the availability of naloxone, and are rebuilding our prevention programs for our kids,” wrote Sununu in the Aug. 11 letter to Trump.
Sununu pointed to ways a federal allocation could be used – toward better data collection that would help to figure out the most effective use of state and federal funding, asking for the “flexibility” for New Hampshire to “find a more direct path toward recovery,” while continuing to serve as a model for the rest of the country.
Read the full letter below: