Opioid Crisis Office May be Gutted

Opioid Crisis Office May be Gutted

Opioid Crisis Office May be Gutted

A leaked proposal from the Office of Management and Budget suggests the Trump administration is thinking about gutting the Office of National Drug Control Policy's 2018 budget.

The eliminations involve the high-intensity drug-trafficking area program, which just received - under a catchall government-wide spending bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday - $254 million for grants to help states and localities to fight drug trafficking, and the $100 million drug-free communities program, which helps local organizations battle drugs in their communities. This would be devastating.

A coalition representing hundreds of drug prevention, law enforcement and health groups is planning to send a letter of protest Monday to the White House. Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has also been tapped to help solve the opioid crisis, in addition to his other duties of reorganizing the entire executive branch and fostering peace in the Middle East.

The staff was notified of the cuts Friday after Baum and top aides were notified of the draconian cuts last Thursday.

The ONDCP website, which was packed with information and resources during the Obama administration, was replaced when Trump took office with a message that says, "Check back soon for more information".

But in an email sent to full-time employees, Richard Baum, the acting director of the office, said the administration's proposed cuts for the fiscal year that begins in October "reflects a almost 95 percent" reduction in the agency's budget.

The proposed budget would cut current ONDCP funding by nearly 95 percent, from $388 million to $24 million, and would end grant programs like the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas Program and the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.

In an email cited in the reports, acting drug czar Richard Baum wrote that he has been encouraged by Trump's "commitment to addressing the opioid epidemic, and the president's personal engagement on the issue, both during the campaign and since he was sworn into office".

"The president has made very clear that the opioid epidemic in this country is a huge priority for him", said White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, adding that there has been no final decision made about office's budget.

In a statement seen by The Hill, The White House said: "It would be premature for us to comment - or anyone to report - on any aspect of this ever-changing, internal discussion before the publication of the document".

"I can't believe that as a nation during the largest healthcare crisis in history that we would actually cut any funding", she said.

The White House has said it is working to eliminate areas of duplication and inefficiency.

President Trump has previously said that he would make it a priority to fix the country's opioid crisis.

Many experts said the president's action is "underwhelming".

"I've known and worked with our drug czars for more than 20 years and this agency is critical to our efforts to combat drug abuse in general, and this opioid epidemic, in particular", Sen.

Baum had hoped to convince the Office of American Innovation that the ONDCP is an essential tool in combatting the opioid epidemic.

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