Trump’s emergency declaration leaves questions for Oklahomans (News OK)

By Meg Wingerter

President Donald Trump said Thursday that he will issue an order declaring a national emergency related to opioids, but it isn’t clear what that will do for Oklahoma’s efforts to fight a wave of overdoses.

Trump didn’t release specific information about the wording of the declaration, which still was being drafted as of Thursday afternoon. He alluded to spending additional money to combat addiction.

The declaration also could loosen some rules, including one that prevents drug treatment facilities with more than 16 beds from receiving Medicaid payments, according to the Washington Examiner.

The “institutions for mental disease” exclusion grew out of efforts to prevent patients with mental illnesses from being treated in large mental hospitals, which at the time often warehoused patients with relatively little treatment. While the rule had good intentions, it limits the types of facilities where low-income people can seek treatment.

The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services said Thursday that its officials couldn’t comment about the declaration because they haven’t seen a copy.

“Addressing opioid abuse has been a priority for ODMHSAS and multiple state partners,” spokesman Jeff Dismukes said.

Oklahoma has had high rates of overdoses and opioid misuse in recent years, but the declaration will only help if it addresses issues like better treatment for chronic pain and improved access to substance abuse treatment, said Gene Perry, policy director at the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

Putting more resources into preventing drug trafficking at the border, for example, wouldn’t address the problem, he said.

“That wouldn’t do anything for the situation in Oklahoma,” he said. “It’s not illegal drugs that are having this effect in Oklahoma.”


Margaret (Maggie) den Harder obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Theology from Seattle Pacific University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma. Originally from the Pacific Northwest area of Washington state, Maggie has called Tulsa home for the past 8 years. Since living in Tulsa, Maggie has worked in the legal field, higher education administration, and the nonprofit sector as well as actively volunteering in the community. Maggie also recently spent time at the City of Tulsa as a consultant and wrote the content for Resilient Tulsa, an action-oriented strategy designed to better equity in Tulsa. Through her work, community involvement, and personal experiences, Maggie is interested in the intersection of the law and mental health and addiction treatment issues, preventative and diversion programs, and maternal mental health, particularly post-partum depression and post-partum psychosis. While working at Oklahoma Policy Institute as a research intern, Maggie further developed an interest in family dynamics and stability, economic security-related stress, and intergenerational trauma.

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