He’s basically just cutting Medicaid, which is the exact opposite of doing something about this issue, unless you consider making it worse to be doing something about it.
Medicaid is the biggest payer in the fight against opioids. In his campaign, he said, “We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need.” So, he’s clearly not going to do that because he’s cutting Medicaid. Moreover, it’s clear bringing jobs back and putting America first is the “help” that he’s referring to. Additionally, he’s enlisted Chris Christie and Jeff Sessions in taking a crime-and-punishment approach. Since addicts don’t stop when they’re told to stop or even when they’re punished severely, ya know, cuz it’s a fucking addiction and, at that point, no longer a choice, this approach is not going to work either! Being treated at the emergency already costs thousands of dollars, and being admitted overnight costs more than $20,000 in some cases. That would seem to be punishment enough, and that’s not curbing the addiction. Obviously.
So it’s pretty obvious what this means, but he’s only not going to stop the issue, he also can’t anyway because the more pressing issue is the synthetic opioid epidemic and he hasn’t tied this issue to anything else that he’d like to work on with China, like international trade.
For what it’s worth, here’s what I think he should do: He loves to talk about how trade is going to fix everything, getting better deals and so on. Given his focus on “deals,” he could tie bilateral trade deals to a reduction of Chinese synthetic opioids entering the United States. He could keep it vague and let China figure out how to stop it and, therefore, wouldn’t have to call them out on their mass production of opioids, but he’s not doing anything.
However, he’s not even mentioned one trade policy that includes China getting a more preferable trade deal if they clean up the opioid problem.
I think we’ll make some progress on curbing addiction to prescription opioids, but I don’t think we’re going to really make any progress on the synthetic front because China keeps coming up with new ways and staying one step ahead of us.
So what can WE do?