Today, in support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Overdose Prevention Strategy, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced investments of over $104 million to expand treatment and prevention services for substance use in rural communities nationwide as part of the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), a multi-year initiative aimed at reducing the morbidity and mortality of rural Americans from substance use. Today’s funding also supports the President’s National Drug Control Strategy and delivers on his Unity Agenda priority of beating the overdose epidemic.
“The overdose epidemic continues to take too many lives and leave too many loved ones heartbroken – including in our rural communities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Biden-Harris Administration has made addressing the nation’s addiction and overdose epidemic a top priority, and at HHS we are taking every opportunity to ensure everyone – no matter who they are or where they live – has access to the critical care and support they need. This funding will help communities save lives by expanding treatment opportunities and prevention for substance use.”
This funding will help rural communities address difficulties they face in providing and accessing substance use treatment, as nearly 37 percent of rural counties lack at least one clinician who can prescribe the opioid treatment buprenorphine. Rural communities in particular have experienced a consistent rise in drug overdose deaths, with a nearly five-fold increase from 1999 to 2019. Opioid-involved overdose deaths, especially those involving fentanyl, have increased significantly across the United States since 2019.
“Today we are taking action to support the critical needs of rural communities by expanding access to opioid use disorder treatment,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Too often, the needs and challenges of rural communities are not well understood, but at HRSA, we are focused on reaching the rural communities that need our support the most and helping them tackle the overdose crisis.”
Today’s announcement highlights funding through the following three programs:
- The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Medication Assisted Treatment Access is awarding $10 million to establish new medication assisted treatment access points for substance use, including opioid use disorder. The program will reduce barriers to evidence-based treatment in underserved rural areas.
- The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Implementation awarded $65 million to strengthen and expand opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery services in rural communities utilizing workforce development and training, telehealth, health care integration, and family support services.
- The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Behavioral Health Care Support awarded $29 million to improve the quality and sustainability of behavioral health care services in rural communities, including through evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment for substance use. The program works to improve rural residents’ access to quality, integrated behavioral health care services.
To learn more about HRSA’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program, visit https://www.hrsa.gov/rural-health/opioid-response.