White House Opioid Commission A 'Sham', Says Member

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy said that the Trump administration’s efforts to deal with America’s opioid crisis is “essentially a sham.”

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy said that the Trump administration’s efforts to deal with America’s opioid crisis is “essentially a sham.”

Patrick Kennedy, one of six members appointed to a bipartisan commission in March by President Trump to address the opioid crisis, told CNN this week that the task force work was a "sham" and a "charade".

Trump also declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency last October, but that move was little more than a rhetorical flourish since the declaration only opened up $57,000 to combat a crisis that costs $504 billion in damages every year.

"This and the administration's other efforts to address the epidemic are tantamount to reshuffling chairs on the Titanic", he said.

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"You can't expect to stem the tide of a public health crisis that is claiming over 64,000 lives per year without putting your money where your mouth is", Kennedy said.

President Donald Trump instated that emergency in October, but it was set to expire January 23.

CNN said it reached out to all members of the presidential commission about the progress made on the epidemic since it issued its report in November, but only Kennedy and Bertha K. Madras, a deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy during the George W. Bush administration, were willing to speak to the publication.

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"In the context of this tax bill, this thing [the commission] is a charade", Kennedy added.

"It means nothing if it has no funding to push it forward". However, the Department of Health and Human Services acting secretary renewed it for another 90 days amid the government shutdown.

Kennedy said he believes the Trump administration is ignoring that sentiment and prioritizing politics over the lives of everyday Americans.

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The opioid commission technically finished out their terms on December 1 after delivering their complete findings, though they never heard the feedback that was promised from President Trump about their almost 60 recommendations for a solution.

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