The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is awarding nearly $400 million to combat the nation’s opioid crisis as part of its five-point strategy to combat the epidemic.
WHY IT MATTERS
The investment announced this past week, to be disbursed by the Health Resources and Services Administration, will enable those community health centers, rural providers and academic institutions funded by HRSA to broaden their efforts to offer integrated substance use disorder and mental health services, officials say.
The agency notes that the number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction at HRSA-funded facilities increased 142 percent from 2016 to 2018. The number receiving buprenorphine, for instance, has increased 28 percent since 2017.
THE LARGER TREND
Public and private investments are key toward fighting back against the opioid crisis – as illustrated by program launched in Kentucky this past month for instance, where Kentucky Hospital Association emergency departments gained access to a data sharing tool, made possible by funding from Anthem, to enable better communication and collaboration.
Optimization of health technology is another essential. We showed recently how Overlake Medical Center & Clinics in Bellevue, Washington, is customizing its Epic electronic health record to combat the epidemic: tracking when a patient agreement goes into Epic; tools for assessing risk of diversion or addiction; the state provider database, and more.
HRSA is also awarding some $70 million to fund Opioid Workforce Expansion Programs for both professionals and paraprofessionals, and $17 million to fund a awardees at a Graduate Psychology Education Program.
Additionally, HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy says it is awarding more than $111 million to 96 rural organizations across 37 states as part of its Rural Communities Opioid Response Program initiative.
These funds aim to help bolster those communities’ ability prevention, treatment and recovery services and pave the way toward more widespread knowledge of the most effective care interventions.
ON THE RECORD
“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement.
“With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results,” he said. “Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”