Trump's Opioid Plan Set to Use Grants His Budget Would Slash

Updated on
  • Health emergency will open labor grants to opioid-affected
  • Thing is, Trump budget would slash funds to the program

Trump Takes New Step in Fight Against Opioid Crisis

Opioid addictions are hitting America’s workforce hard. President Donald Trump’s move to declare the crisis a national public health emergency offers some hope for relief: It means Labor Department dislocated-worker grants could be used to help provide jobs for people sidelined by the epidemic.

But there’s an irony here. The president has proposed cutting that very grant program by nearly half in fiscal year 2018 -- shrinking the program to $117 million from $220.8 million. The spending bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee would also reduce program funding, by slightly less. Congress has yet to agree on a 2018 spending package, so it remains to be seen whether a cut comes to fruition.

The grants are allocated to states to help re-employ people displaced by disasters and mass layoffs, and it’s unclear how exactly they’d be used in the context of the opioid crisis. The Labor Department didn’t provide a comment, despite phone and email correspondence over two days.

The designation could open the door to other resources. It gives the Health and Human Services Secretary the ability to speed up the appointments of workers to deal with an epidemic and could expand the application of telemedicine, among other measures.

— With assistance by Erik Wasson

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