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HHS Launches Multipronged Effort to Combat Opioid Drug Abuse

Aug 04, 2015

In addressing the National Governor’s Association, US Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell recently announced three bold steps to increase access to substance use disorder treatment services, including treatment for opioid prescription drug abuse and heroin use. First, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) will make $100 million in new funding available to approximately 300 Community Health Centers to expand services for those with substance use disorders, including medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Lack of access to such treatment is a growing problem nationwide and this infusion of funds will offer many people in need access to quality services.

Second, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is awarding $11 million to 11 states to expand and enhance medication assisted treatment services. These funds will enable state treatment service systems to more effectively address the needs of people with opioid use disorders. The grants promote comprehensive, coordinated, and evidence-based medication-assisted treatment and recovery support services. Third, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is releasing guidance to help states implement comprehensive, evidence-based service delivery approaches to substance use disorder treatment. It is estimated that 12 percent of all Medicaid beneficiaries ages 18-64 and 15 percent of uninsured individuals who could be eligible for Medicaid coverage have substance use disorder. Medicaid pays one out of every five dollars for substance use disorder treatment. CMS is establishing a new Medicaid demonstration initiative to states seeking to undertake significant improvements in the delivery of care to beneficiaries with substance use disorder.