It’s our local partners, in community clinics, churches, law enforcement, schools, and state, local, and tribal governments, who ultimately are going to turn the tide on this epidemic. They are fighting each day face-to-face with a drug crisis that is killing more than 175 Americans every day.
As Prepared for Delivery
Good afternoon, everyone. As Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] said, I am the acting secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, known as HHS.
HHS is home not just to programs like Medicare and Medicaid, but also to the National Institutes of Health, known as NIH; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, known as CDC; the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA; and the federal government’s substance abuse and mental health agency, known as SAMHSA.
That’s a lot of acronyms, sorry. But I want you to know what HHS does because I’m here to talk about this check behind me, written by President Trump to HHS using his third-quarter salary.
His decision to donate his salary as president is a tribute to his patriotism, his compassion and his sense of duty to the American people.
It’s compassion, above all, that drives his interest in the issue to which HHS is going to devote his donation, America’s devastating opioid crisis.
Since Day One of this administration, President Trump’s leadership on this issue has driven action on it across the federal government.
Speaking for HHS in particular, earlier this year we unveiled a comprehensive strategy that attacks the opioid epidemic on five fronts. The five points are:
- Better data on the epidemic;
- Better research into pain and addiction;
- Better pain management;
- Better targeting of overdose reversing drugs; and
- Better prevention, treatment, and recovery services;
This strategy devotes HHS’s unique resources and expertise to empowering heroes on the front lines of this crisis.
After all, it’s our local partners, in community clinics, churches, law enforcement, schools, and state, local, and tribal governments, who ultimately are going to turn the tide on this epidemic.
They are fighting each day face-to-face with a drug crisis that is killing more than 175 Americans every day. Just think for a second: That means we’ll lose seven of our fellow Americans to drug overdoses during this press briefing.
That kind of urgency is why President Trump delivered a speech back in October calling for HHS to declare an unprecedented nationwide public health emergency regarding the crisis.
After we did so, we’ve continued to take aggressive action at our department, including approving state waivers to expand addiction treatment and clarifying how doctors and hospitals can share information with a patient’s loved ones in dangerous situations like a drug overdose.
I got to meet some of the local heroes whom we’re working to empower just a few weeks ago, when I traveled to Kentucky the day after the president’s speech.
We visited a clinic in Lexington that treats young mothers struggling with opioid addiction, and their babies, who are sometimes born physically dependent on opioids themselves.
The stories we heard in Lexington hit close to home for me, because I’m from a small town in southern Illinois, the kind of rural community that has been hit hard by this epidemic.
It’s also the kind of community President Trump has spent a lot of time in over the past couple years, where he’s heard about how Americans are suffering.
Part of the way we aim to stop this crisis is by raising awareness of how devastating and deadly drug addiction can be. That is why we’re so pleased that President Trump has chosen to donate his salary this quarter to the planning and design of a large-scale public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.
HHS is proud to be working with the White House on this effort, and our team of public health experts brings a great deal of experience and expertise to the table regarding how to make these campaigns effective.
At HHS, our goal is to create healthier lives, stronger communities and a safer country.
We are so glad to have a president who recognizes that the opioid crisis is a huge threat to these three goals.
The President is personally dedicated to defeating this crisis, because addiction hits home for so many of us. You heard him share the story in his opioids speech of how he lost his brother to alcoholism.
Speaking personally, opioid addiction has been a presence in my hometown and my family for years—it was years ago, in fact, that I lost a close relative who constantly struggled with opioids.
This Christmas and holiday season, all of us should consider following the President’s example and think about what we can do in our own private lives to help fight back against a crisis that’s tearing American families apart.
We all know people who are hurting this holiday season. I know we as Americans will rise to their aid.
Thanks so much for having me here today, and thanks once again to President Trump for his generous donation.