Gov. Chris Christie was having none of it from naysayers who questioned the president’s commitment to fighting the opioid crisis. The governor was at a press conference in Newark to celebrate the announcement from earlier this month that the feds had granted a waiver for New Jersey to allow federal funds to be made available to expand access to drug treatment for Medicaid patients. Christie thanked the president for his leadership on the issue and rebuked any suggestion that the president’s commitment was less than 100 percent.
“I want you to tell me one thing Barack Obama did in eight years to deal with this crisis. I want you to tell me whether he declared a public health emergency,” barked the governor. “I want you to tell me whether or not he appointed a commission, with no strings attached, to come forward with recommendations. I want you to tell me whether Barack Obama instructed his Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] director to grant waivers to allow treatment to be more available.”
And, he went on like that for a bit. The point, clearly, is that those with substance abuse disorders have no better friend than the president, who took one of the recommendations from the Christie-chaired Opioid Commission and made it easier for Medicaid funds to be used to treat patients, saving the state money in the fight and assuring that poor people can also get access to addiction care. To make his point further, the governor brought along the administrator for the CMS, Seema Verma.
“His leadership on this issue has been amazing, and one of the best things that he did was appointing the governor to be the chairman of the Opioid Commission,” said Verma. “And, because of what he did, the president was convinced to move forward in having HHS declare this a public health emergency and it was because of that leadership that we were able to move forward at CMS with approving the state’s waiver.”
Integrity House, where the governor comes to tout his latest efforts in the opioid crisis, was again Wednesday the backdrop for a tour of its facilities. While Wednesday’s event did not include any breaking news, the governor did take questions about other pressing matters, like how the Giants treated Eli Manning.
“I think that the manner in which this was handled and the manner in which Eli Manning is being treated by the Giants organization is disgraceful,” said the die-hard Cowboys fan.
When asked about an arbitration cap bill, which is it supposedly due on the governor’s desk before he leaves office, the governor said, “there’s no doubt in my mind that the Senate president and the speaker-designate want the arbitration cap to be extended, but they’ve made it very clear that they’re not going to do that unless the governor-elect indicates that it’s something that he is supportive of.”
As for his successor? The transition, he says, is going well.
“I want to make sure that this transition is the complete opposite of the transition eight years ago,” he added. “The transition eight years ago was nonexistent.”
He’s a glib governor with a few axes left to grind and a pet issue that puts him in front of enough cameras to serve up some fodder. As one aide joked, “you’re going to miss him when he’s gone.”