Governor, First Lady applaud President for declaring opioid epidemic a Nationwide Public Health Emergency

Thursday, October 26, 2017 - 3:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Gov. Doug Burgum and First Lady Kathryn Helgaas Burgum today applauded President Donald Trump for declaring the nation’s opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency, expanding access to resources and services – including in rural and remote areas – to combat the chronic disease of addiction.

“I was deeply honored to be invited to the White House today for the President’s event declaring the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, mobilizing his administration to address drug addiction and opioid abuse,” Helgaas Burgum said. “This is an important step in treating addiction like the chronic disease it is and opening additional paths to treatment, recovery and prevention.”

The declaration expands access to telemedicine services, including substance abuse and mental health treatment for people living in remote areas, and also makes it easier for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to deploy specialists who can effectively respond to the opioid epidemic, according to the White House. The action also allows the federal government to issue dislocated worker grants to help workers displaced from the workforce because of the opioid crisis, and to shift resources within HIV/AIDS programs to help people eligible for those programs receive substance abuse treatment.

Prior to attending the President’s announcement, Helgaas Burgum met with Richard Baum, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Congressman Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which held a hearing this week on the use of federal funds to fight the opioid crisis.

“Director Baum has been an important partner for the state of North Dakota as we work with the federal government to move resources upstream and work to provide additional resources to treat the root causes of addiction,” Helgaas Burgum said. “I’m also grateful to Congressman Cramer for his work on this issue and for taking the time to discuss how we can partner to end the shame and stigma of addiction in North Dakota and nationwide.”

North Dakota received a $2 million State Targeted Response grant this year from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to reduce and prevent opioid abuse and overdose deaths. The funding is supporting several initiatives stemming from an executive order signed by the governor last month in conjunction with his and the first lady’s Recovery Reinvented summit in Bismarck.