|On Oct. 26 last year, President Donald Trump declared the opioid epidemic — which took more than 64,000 lives in 2016 — a national emergency.
More specifically, he declared it a public health emergency, which can be used to ease some federal rules for the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to, among other things, make more people eligible for Medicaid or dispatch more medical professionals to the areas hit hardest by the drug crisis.
The declaration has already been extended twice, most recently on Tuesday. But health policy experts say it’s unclear what — if any — HHS rules have been waived since the declaration. Moreover, Trump did not directly offer state and local governments more money to combat the drug crisis. Because of this, some say the declaration has been nothing more than an empty promise.