NUHW statement on Trump’s opioid crisis declaration

Kaiser Mental HealthOctober 26, 2017

Last month, NUHW President Sal Rosselli and four NUHW-represented mental health clinicians traveled to Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the International Association of Machinists to meet with lawmakers and help them understand the magnitude of opioid addiction crisis, and the need to address it as part of the broader effort to improve access to mental health treatment.

On Thursday, Rosselli issued the following statement on President Trump’s declaration that the opioid addiction crisis is “a public health emergency.”

Declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency is a step in the right direction – but a very, very small step. Public health emergencies are for 90-day periods. Overcoming opioid addiction takes time; it’s not like flicking a light switch.

The Trump Administration needs to acknowledge that this is a mental health issue and immediately direct additional resources and support to mental health care services. Perhaps, this can now be possible with a new Secretary of Health and Human Services. When he was in Congress, former HHS Secretary Tom Price was a fierce opponent of the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act.

Recently, representatives of our union were on Capitol Hill discussing with members of Congress ways to best treat opioid addiction. There seemed to be a broad consensus that bold action was required — not half steps.  Only through beefed-up mental health care services and a move toward mental health care parity will we beat this addiction crisis.