Looking Forward: Obstacles and Opportunities for Trump’s Fight Against Opioid Addiction

What will the fight against opioid addiction look like under President Trump? Although the president-elect has yet to appoint the Secretary of Health and Human Services who will inherit this public health crisis, Trump and his transition team have been discussing possible strategies since his historic election just two weeks ago. With under 60 days to go until his administration begins running the country, here’s what President Trump’s strategy to end opioid addiction could look like and the obstacles he’ll face along the way.

One political challenge Donald Trump won’t have to deal with is compromise. For the first time since President Obama was elected in 2008, the White House, Senate and House of Representatives will all be controlled by Republicans. This means that Trump can expect the party’s full support for any legislative initiatives he proposes to fight the opioid epidemic at the federal level. Republicans are well-poised to make a huge impact on addiction and recovery resources in this country without having to compromise with their political opponents.

As Trump often spoke about on the campaign trail, one of his first initiatives as president will likely be the repeal of Obamacare, or at least major revisions to that legislation. While Trump has recently said in interviews he will keep certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, Trump’s voter base as well as Republican Senators and Representatives will likely work hard to hold him to his initial promise. Repealing Obamacare and the Medicaid cutbacks likely to come afterwards will make it harder for the poorest Americans to get the addiction treatment services they need, ultimately diminishing our country’s ability to effectively end the opioid epidemic.

It may be a different story if Republicans fund the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA). The bill was signed into law by President Obama last summer but, according to Congress’ appropriations process, won’t be fully funded until the government’s 2017 fiscal year. If CARA is fully funded, and there is bipartisan support to do so, important recovery services like medication assisted treatment, better known as MAT therapy, will in theory be more available. How people will connect to these services without health care insurance remains to be seen.

Donald Trump is situated to put a huge dent in the opioid addiction crisis in the United States. With full congressional backing and quality, bi-partisan legislation ready to be funded, Trump has every possible resource at his disposal. On behalf of the millions of Americans fighting an opioid addiction, we can only hope this help comes sooner rather than later, and at a price everyone can afford.