January 31, 2018

Manchin, Huntington Fire Chief call for national emergency declaration | Beckley Register Herald

Both U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader are hopeful President Trump will declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency – and come up with some dollars to fight the battle.

During a press conference call with West Virginia reporters, the two said Trump’s declaration in October of a public health emergency was a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough.

“You can’t be on the front lines of a war and not have any bullets to fight with,” Manchin said. “We need funding.”

A national emergency declaration would allow funding to be directed more easily to the hardest hit areas of the opioid epidemic.

Rader said Huntington is averaging five overdose calls each day.

“We’re trying to keep people alive until they can get the help they need,” she said. “We need funding and we need it now. We need help, we need providers, we need all kinds of things we can’t get right now because we don’t have a funding source.”

Manchin is hopeful Congress will take up legislation he has sponsored called the LifeBOAT Act, which would establish a 1 cent fee on each milligram of active opioid ingredient in a prescription pain pill to fund efforts to provide and expand access to substance abuse treatment.

“There’s not a part of this country that’s not affected,” he said. “Securing the border is going to help a lot, but you have to start getting people clean again through treatment.”

By:  Wendy Holdren