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AAC F A M I L Y & F R I E N D S


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www.naco.org


About NACo – The Voice of America’s Counties National Association of Counties (NACo) is the only national organization that represents county governments in the U.S. NACo provides essential services to the nation’s 3,068 coun- ties. NACo advances issues with a unified voice before the federal government, improves the public’s understanding of county government, assists counties in finding and sharing innova- tive solutions through education and research and provides value-added services to save counties and taxpayers money.


By Valerie Brankovic On August 10, President Trump declared a federal state of emer- gency regarding the nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic. Te an- nouncement comes just over a week after the White House’s Com- mission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis recommended urgent action on the epidemic in its interim set of policy recommendations. Opioid overdoses accounted for 33,000 deaths in 2015 – more than any other year on record, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Federal emergency declarations are typically reserved for short- term crises related to a natural disaster or contagious disease out- break. Te federal government’s emergency response to a crisis driven by substance abuse will likely differ from its response to a hurricane or the Zika virus; but declaring a state of emergency in either situation allows the government to rapidly mobilize and deploy treatment resources with less administrative oversight. Te White House is expected to release a more detailed plan


on what the opioid emergency declaration will entail. According to experts, the federal government’s emergency response could include the following actions: • Temporarily empowering states to override certain regula- tions around Medicaid funding for mental health services;





Immediately establishing a federal fund to improve access to medically-assisted treatment for opioid addiction, which


President declares state of emergency over opioid epidemic has been shown to reduce drug relapse and death; and


• Providing states with model legislation to make the over- dose antidote naloxone more available to the public


Prior to the president’s announcement, governors of six states


had already declared public health emergencies in response to ris- ing numbers of overdose-related deaths. In Arizona, Gov. Doug Ducey’s used an emergency declaration to tap into public health emergency funds that provided overdose-specific training for law enforcement officials. Other states, such as Alaska, used emergency powers to stock naloxone in public spaces for limited time periods. Some counties have also declared public health crises in re- sponse to the opioid crisis in their jurisdictions. In 2016, New York’s Erie County Executive Mark C. Polocarz issued an execu- tive order declaring a public health crisis and ordering the for- mation of an Opioid Epidemic Task Force. Responding to rec- ommendations put forth by community organizations, the Erie County legislature approved proposals to create a 24-hour addic- tion hotline and provide county-wide training sessions on how to use naloxone. Proposals currently under consideration include equipping hospitals with more treatment beds and establishing safe disposal sites for prescription medications. NACo will continue to monitor any further developments on the federal emergency declaration and its implications for local governments.


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COUNTY LINES, SUMMER 2017


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