Member of Trump’s opioid panel calls for further action

October 26, 2017

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a member of President Donald Trump’s special commission on opioid abuse, said Thursday that the president’s declaration of a public health emergency was a strong step in the right direction and called on the White House and Congress to fully fund the panel’s recommendations.

Baker said the commission, chaired by New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie, will deliver its final report next week and include proposals around prevention, treatment and recovery.

“I believe the president will act on this report once it is delivered to him and I hope and anticipate that will be the case,” Baker told The Associated Press. Some of the proposals would require congressional action, he said, while others would urge the federal government to support ongoing efforts at the state level.

Trump’s emergency declaration will allow the government to redirect resources in various ways to address the nation’s deadly opioid addiction scourge. But many Democrats in Congress, including several from Massachusetts, argued that the Republican president’s declaration came too late and with no new federal money attached to it.

“States and communities need a significant increase in federal funding for existing opioid addiction programs — and today’s announcement from the president does not deliver those funds,” said Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in a statement.

Gus Bickford, chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, called for Baker to resign from the opioid commission, saying it was “complicit” with what Bickford called Trump’s inaction on the crisis.

Asked about the criticism, Baker said too many people were trying to assess blame rather than work toward solutions.

Massachusetts declared opioid abuse a state public health emergency in 2014 under Baker’s predecessor, former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.

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