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Trump Says He Will Declare State of Emergency in Opioid Crisis, But What Does That Mean?

(Credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr)

President Trump said Thursday that he will declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency. That designation could potentially open a new wave of federal funding to Ohio’s public health agencies to combat the crisis.

But multiple agencies say they don’t yet have any clear understanding what Trump’s statement means for them.

If the president formally declares a state of emergency, it could mean federal disaster relief funds for many Ohio cities and state agencies. It also could mean some federal rules are waived temporarily, like certain restrictions on how Medicaid funds are spent.

One non-profit potentially affected by the president’s declaration is the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County. Its CEO Valeria Harper says that to date, Washington has not set aside enough money to fight the epidemic.

"People are dying at a very alarming rate," Harper said. "Is the federal government doing enough to give us money? We could always use more, absolutely, we could always use more."

The Trump administration has yet to announce the specifics of how funding or federal rules will change.