Last week, President Donald Trump declared the opioid addiction crisis to be a nationwide public health emergency, which would open federal funding to combat the problem. However, Forbes.com is reporting that with no specific funding allotted to the emergency by the President, the only available dollars would come from the Public Health Emergency Fund’s $57,000 budget.
Why is the balance so low? A Congressional Research Services report, last updated in 2008, described how the Public Health Emergency Fund is supposed to work and its history. Congress began the fund in 1983 with an initial $30 million allocation and retained the authority to replenish the fund back up to the $30 million level each year until 1990 when Congress pushed the limit up to $45 million. However, as Alison Kodjak described for NPR, since 1993, Congress has not deposited any more money into the fund, which has resulted in the balance sinking to $57,000.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study published in Medical Care estimated the total economic burden of the opioid crisis to be $78.5 billion with $28.9 billion coming from increased healthcare and substance abuse treatment costs.