Health and Human Services recently announced $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 271 health centers in 45 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico to improve substance abuse treatment and expand services in health care centers.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell, said in a press release. “Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”
Sylvia M. Burwell
The awards, administered by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), will increase the number of patients screened for substance use disorders and referred to treatment, increase access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use and other substance use disorder treatment, and provide training and educational resources to aid health care professionals in making informed prescribing decisions.
The funding is expected to enable awardees to hire approximately 800 providers and treat an estimated 124,000 new patients.
“Health centers treat some of the most at-risk patients in the country,” Jim Macrae, MA, MPP, acting administrator of the HRSA, said in the release. “These awards position health centers to be at the forefront of the fight against opioid abuse in underserved communities.”
HHS is focused on improving opioid prescribing practices, increasing naloxone use and increasing access to medication-assisted treatment.
Further, President Barack Obama has designated the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic a top priority, issuing a Presidential Memorandum on improving access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use last year.
“HRSA's innovative investment in the delivery of medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders affirms the importance of behavioral health to overall health,” Kana Enomoto, MA, acting administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, said in the release.