Sunday, May 27, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Fighting the scourge of opioids

Not a day passes without another community across the nation marking the painful cost of the opioid crisis. With 142 Americans dying every day from a drug overdose, the nation is "enduring a death toll" equal to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks every three weeks, according to members of President Donald Trump's opioid commission, who urged the president on Monday to declare the crisis a national emergency. The president needs a win and this would be a worthy one — bringing more resources to the table in a timelier manner and raising the public profile of the addiction crisis.

The commission, which Trump created in March, has met with physicians, experts and elected officials and taken testimony in preparation for releasing a full report on its findings in October. In an interim report Monday, the panel addressed the scope of this growing and evolving problem, noting the danger from opioids available by both prescription and on the street. Since 1999, the number of opioid overdoses has quadrupled, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and as of 2015, 27 million people were reported currently using prescription or illegal drugs. More opioids are consumed in America than in any other country, and enough were prescribed in 2015 to dope every American for three weeks around the clock.

That flood and its prevalence around the country prompted the panel to issue its "first and most urgent recommendation" — that Trump declare a national emergency, which would enable his Cabinet and the states to work more closely on prevention and treatment programs, and turn the heat on Congress to provide the billions of dollars necessary to improve drug interdiction and health care programs. State and local officials are responding in piecemeal fashion, but they need an overarching federal strategy to make the best use of limited resources.

The commission also called for waiving federal rules that limit the number of Medicaid patients who can receive substance abuse treatment in some residential facilities. It wants new training on opioid prescribing in medical and dental schools, and greater access to and training on the use of naloxone in rapidly reversing opioid overdoses. Members also implored the administration to work with drug manufacturers to develop new, non-opioid pain relievers.

This strong declaration by the commission is a wake-up call for the nation and an opportunity for the White House. It comes after several states, including Florida, issued statewide public health emergencies to address the opioid epidemic. Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order May 3 that fast-tracked the delivery of $27 million in federal grant funding for prevention, treatment and recovery services. With 3,900 opioid deaths in 2015, out of 52,000 nationally, Florida is at the forefront of a national public health emergency, and it should especially welcome the call for a more forceful federal role.

With his White House staff in turmoil and his legislative agenda stalled, the president needs a political victory — and the sooner, the better. The death of a Tampa high school senior in April — which authorities blamed on opiate intoxication — shows that the deadly drug epidemic is doing the impossible by bringing Republicans and Democrats, red and blue states, young and old and urban and suburban voters alike under the same threat. "If this scourge has not found you or your family yet, without bold action by everyone, it soon will," the opioid commission wrote. Trump should heed the call and elevate this crisis into a priority for national action.

Comments
Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Editorial: Welcome Bayshore changes still canít stop bad judgment

Itís human nature in following any tragedy to imagine: How could this have been prevented? On that score, the city of Tampa responded appropriately to the deaths this week of a mother and her toddler whom police say were hit by a teenage driver racin...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Editorial: Searching for the real Adam Putnam

Send out an Amber Alert for Adam Putnam. The red-haired, affable fellow who has served capably as a state legislator, member of Congress and agriculture commissioner is missing. In his place is a far-right caricature who has branded himself as a prou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Editorial: A strong economic case for restoring voting rights for felons

Floridians are paying a steep price for a system that makes it as difficult as possible for people who leave prison to reintegrate into civic life. Gov. Rick Scottís clemency process isnít just archaic and cruel ó it also wastes enormous public resou...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyangís nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Koreaís Kim Jong ...
Published: 05/24/18
Updated: 05/25/18

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18

Editorial: A positive first step in ensuring student access at USFSP

As a task force sorts out countless details involved in folding the University of South Florida St. Petersburg back into the major research university based in Tampa, ensuring access for good Pinellas students remains a concern. An enhanced cooperati...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/25/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18
Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

Editorial: Honoring our fallen soldiers on Memorial Day

The rising tensions with Iran, the resurgence of violence in the Mideast and the uncertainty over a nuclear disarmament deal with North Korea combine to create an unsettling time this Memorial Day. These grave threats to peace are another reminder of...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/25/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18