President Obama on Tuesday announced additional measures to curb the country’s prescription drug abuse and heroin use epidemic.
His “two-pronged approach” includes $1 billion in new mandatory funding over the course of two years to expand access to treatment for those abusing prescription painkillers and heroin. The president’s goal: Boost efforts to assist individuals with an opioid-use disorder by providing them with the means to complete treatment and sustain recovery.
The administration’s funding includes the following:
- · $920 million to support cooperative agreements with states, in the hopes of expanding access to medication-assisted treatment for narcotic use disorders. With the additional financing, states can use these funds to expand treatment capacity, designed to make services more affordable to those in need
- · Another $50 million in National Health Serves Corps funding to expand access to substance use treatment providers. This additional financing will be used to support nearly 700 providers in providing substance use disorder services, the administration noted.
- · $30 million will go to evaluating the effectiveness of treatment programs, attempting to employ medication-assisted treatment under “real-world conditions” to help identify opportunities to improve treatment for patients addicted to prescription painkillers or heroin.
An increase of more than $90 million, the president’s budget includes approximately $500 million to continue and build on current efforts across the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand state-level prescription prevention strategies, boost access to the overdose-treatmetn drug naloxone, and support enforcement programs.
The White House noted some of the funding in this area is earmarked for rural areas, where rates of opioid use and overdose are quite high.
Obama’s announcement today comes on the heels of his October 2015 actions to address the opioid epidemic. At that time, he issued a Presidential Memorandum on prescriber training and opioid abuse treatment. In addition, the president also unveiled a commitment by over 40 provider groups representing more than 540,000 health care providers to engage in training on proper opioid prescribing.
And back in December, Obama signed a budget agreement that included more than $400 million in funding for the opioid epidemic, a figure that is $100 million than the prior year.