On Oct. 26, 2017, Trump directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to declare the opioid crisis a public health emergency. The emergency declaration included a call for increased use of telemedicine to allow doctors to remotely treat patients who live in rural or hard-to-reach areas, a policy change that would require action by the Justice Department and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).
Months later, news reports suggested that little action had actually been taken to address the opioid crisis and no policies had been implemented to ease barriers to substance abuse treatment by telemedicine. In September 2019, nearly two years after declaring a state of emergency, the Trump administration committed $1.8 billion in grants to tackle the opioid crisis.
This action comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported record increases in deaths involving opioids. In January 2019, the National Safety Council found that for the first time in American history, the odds of dying by opioid overdose were greater than by a car accident. American Oversight has opened an investigation to better understand what steps the Trump administration is taking to address this issue.