Many of us might know Kellyanne Conway not only as President Trump’s counselor but as also an avid defender of his work so far and moral standing as a person. However, many were surprised to learn that as of late, it seems she has begun to step into a new role as acting “woman in charge” of the Trump Administration’s war on the opioid crisis.
After the White House’s announcement of a National Health Emergency in October, many American’s were left wanting – claiming there may have been a whole lot of talk about doing something, but so far there had been very little action, and even fewer resources to work with. As Ms. Conway has begun to take over the position as the government’s point person in the battle against the opioid crisis, however, many are hopeful that it will bring much-needed direction and organization to solving the issue.
There has been a lot of talk about what needs to be done to bring about change, and until Ms. Conway stepped into the light, President Trump had really only promised to bring about an Ad Campaign to stamp out Drug Abuse. I mean, it worked in the 80’s… sort of.
According to Harvard Medical School professor and member of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction, “The most important thing that Kellyanne Conway will provide is access. But also commitment.” Apparently, Ms. Conway has been present at all of the meetings that have taken place on how to tackle the opioid crisis and has seemed to be stepping in to make all of the initial promises of the National Health Emergency plan to fruition. These original goals were:
- Expanding Addiction Treatment and Preventative Measures (though not yet specified how)
- Increases and Mandating Substance Abuse education among government employees (no word on expanding to other labor classes as of yet)
- Mandating safe prescribing education classes for medical providers
- Increase emergency response for overdose victims
- Work towards decreasing the flow of illegal drugs being imported (PSA, Carfentanil comes from China…)
- Allow all 50 states the ability to receive Medicaid funding for mental health and addiction treatment at Hospitals with more than 16 beds.
Although many have been pushing the Administration and Congress to increase funding for the planned methods of attack, Ms. Conway reported that the White House is still “digesting the commission’s final recommendations and devising a response.”
Many felt that after the initial announcement of the National Health Emergency, the government was falling into an all talk, no walk attitude, as they had not designated any initial funding or plans of increasing any funding into the opioid crisis. Instead, the plan of action was mainly, to reorganize funds that are already available and appropriate them to better suited areas. This number, which was very low already, has caused a lot of debate on it’s effective to actually bring about change.
The 2018 budget request would increase addiction treatment funding by LESS THAN 2 PERCENT, which is on top of the $500 million that was designated by Congress under the 21st Century Cures Act during the Obama Administration.
However, President Trump has announced that he would be donating his own personal third quarter salary to the effort. Mind you, after taxes, that total sum adds up to less than $100,000.
Why no additional funding, you ask? Well, over the summer, Congress was supposed to vote on a very important, hot-button topic, that would have potentially allotted $45 billion for the opioid crisis. Many will remember this from Trump’s campaign, a little item also known as the repeal of Obama Care, which, to this date, has yet to even be brought to a vote.
Also, since the announcement of the National Health Emergency, there has been no movement on important department heads in the necessary areas, for example, we are still going without a permanent director for the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
So, with the lack of movement by the government so far, this is the first time that any official, besides NJ Governor Chris Christie, has stepped forward to make any indication that work is being done to actually get some sort of ball rolling on battling the epidemic. According to many, she remains invested, engaged, and open to different ways to counter the opioid crisis, reportedly taking extensive notes during commission meetings, despite her lack of public health experience.
If you want to get involved, but aren’t sure how there are a lot of ways to make your voice heard:
- Call the Officials: This website is a directory for getting in touch with everything from local elects all the way to the oval office.
- Plan out a group phone brigade – it is easy to write an email, but a great way to make sure that the message is delivered, is to coordinate a group of people to call an office at the same time, for the same reason, over a period of time. Emails can get lost, inundated phone lines are a little more bang for your buck.
- Stay involved on Social Media – you can often track what your local and state officials will be voting on ahead of time, which allows you to reach out to them and voice your opinion BEFORE the vote.
- Create a Petition – enough signatures can definitely help sway a vote in one direction or another for local and state officials, as no matter how high up they are, their main priority is ultimately, to the people.
- Do Your Research – It can be hard with all of the mixed messages we receive from news channels these days, so find your own source of the news, make sure it’s credible, stay involved and up to date on what’s going on, don’t be that person that is blindsided when they realize a few months late that they could have voted to object getting their insurance plans gutted.