HHS Kicks in Millions More to Fight Opioid Abuse Epidemic

SAMHSA, CMS, HRSA Announce New Funding Opportunities

August 05, 2015 01:40 pm News Staff

In response to a steady drumbeat of bad news about opioid abuse throughout the United States, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell recently announced plans to up the ante of funding the agency is making available to combat the epidemic.

[Desk accessories and binders labeled applications and grants]

"For those Americans who have fallen into opioid addiction and dependency, we can make the greatest impact by helping them move into recovery," Burwell said in a July 25 press release.(www.hhs.gov) "This funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and help states and community health centers continue to improve their responses to the opioid epidemic."

Specifically, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is awarding 11 grants of about $1 million each(www.samhsa.gov) as part of its Targeted Capacity Expansion: Medication Assisted Treatment-Prescription Drug and Opioid Addiction (MAT-PDOA) program. Overall, SAMHSA plans to award as much as $33 million in grants over three years to aid states in their efforts to enhance and expand treatment service systems for people with opioid use disorders.

The purpose of the SAMHSA grants is threefold:

  • increase the number of individuals who receive MAT services with pharmacotherapies approved by the FDA to treat opioid use disorders,
  • increase the number of individuals receiving integrated care (i.e., medical, behavioral or social and recovery support services), and
  • decrease illicit drug use at six-month follow-up.
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  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is awarding 11 state grants of about $1 million each and will continue the grants for two more years.
  • CMS also will provide federal funding to reimburse states for substance use disorder treatment services provided through demonstration projects.
  • The Health Resources and Services Administration will begin accepting applications for Substance Abuse Service Expansion grants later this week.

The MAT-PDOA program,(www.samhsa.gov) which launched earlier this year, focuses on states with the highest per capita rates of primary treatment admissions for heroin and opioids. To be eligible, states must demonstrate that they experienced a 50 percent or greater rate of change for such admissions between 2007 and 2012. In addition, a number of these states have demonstrated even more dramatic increases in heroin- and opioid-related admissions in recent years.

The SAMHSA funding announcement is just one component of a larger HHS initiative targeting three priority areas:

  • opioid prescribing practices to reduce opioid use disorders and overdose,
  • expanding the use and distribution of naloxone, and
  • increasing the use of MAT to reduce opioid use disorders and overdose.

For example, the HHS press release noted that CMS is notifying state Medicaid programs about new opportunities to design service delivery systems that target individuals with substance use disorders. Specifically, the agency will provide federal funding to reimburse states for substance use disorder treatment services provided through demonstration projects authorized under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act.

According to a letter CMS sent to Medicaid directors(medicaid.gov) across the country late last month, "Section 1115 demonstration projects allow states to test innovative policy and delivery approaches that promote the objectives of the Medicaid program. States may receive federal financial participation for costs not otherwise matchable, such as services delivered to targeted populations, in limited geographic areas, or in settings that are not otherwise covered under the Medicaid program."

In addition, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is poised to open the application process for Substance Abuse Service Expansion grants for fiscal year 2016 later this week. The grants are intended to "improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services provided by existing Health Center Program award recipients, with a focus on MAT in opioid use disorders."

Part of a program established under the Public Health Service Act, HRSA defines these health centers as "nonprofit private or public entities that serve designated medically underserved populations/areas or special medically underserved populations."

Only centers that did not receive initial Health Center Program funding as a new start/new award recipient in FY 2015 are eligible to apply for the service expansion grants. In all, HRSA expects to award about $100 million to an estimated 310 grant recipients in FY 2016.


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