The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced it is releasing more than $1.8 billion to states to combat the opioid crisis.
The funds will expand access to treatment and support efforts by state and local governments to track near real-time data on overdoses.
Over the past decade, reporting of mortality data has improved substantially, mainly due to improvements in reporting by state vital records offices. States may report nonfatal data as quickly as every two weeks and report fatal data every six months.
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The funding includes $900 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over three years, with $301 million being released the first year to 47 states, Washington, D.C., 16 localities, and two territories.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is releasing $932 million to all 50 states, as part of its State Opioid Response grants. These grants provide flexible funding to state governments to support prevention, treatment, and recovery services in ways that meet the needs of their state.
The grant program, funded by Congress in 2018, is focused on providing evidence-based treatment, including the gold standard for treating opioid addiction: medication-assisted treatment, HHS said.
The $932 million is in addition to the approximately $500 million released earlier this year by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support the second year of the State Opioid Response program.
The grants follow a Health Resources and Services Administration award of nearly $400 million in August to community health centers, rural organizations, and academic institutions to help them establish and expand access to substance abuse and mental health services.
Earlier this month, HHS also proposed to modernize regulations that pose barriers to caring for Americans struggling with substance use disorders, including opioid addiction.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Efforts to expand treatment are succeeding, according to HHS. Data suggests approximately 1.27 million Americans are now receiving medication-assisted treatment, out of approximately 2 million Americans with an opioid use disorder.
THE LARGER TREND
From 2017 to 2018, provisional counts of drug overdose deaths dropped by 5% and overdose deaths from opioids went down 2.8% from 2017 to 2018.
The number of individuals reporting pain reliever misuse decreased from 2017 to 2018 by 11 percent, with fewer than 10 million Americans now reporting misuse. Heroin-related opioid use disorder also decreased significantly among young adults.
Since President Trump took office, the number of patients receiving buprenorphine has increased 28 percent, and the number of naltrexone prescriptions per month has increased 55 percent.
In April of 2017, HHS announced a 5-point strategy to combat the opioid crisis. Those efforts include better addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery services; better data; better pain management; better targeting of overdose reversing drugs; and better research.
By the end of 2019, HHS under the Trump Administration will have awarded more than $9 billion in grants to states and local communities to help increase access to treatment and prevention services.
ON THE RECORD
"Our country is seeing the first drop in overdose deaths in more than two decades, more Americans are getting treatment for addiction, and lives are being saved," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.." At the same time, we are still far from declaring victory. We will continue executing on the Department's 5-point strategy for combating the opioid crisis, and laying the foundation for a healthcare system where every American can access the mental healthcare they need."
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