HRSA Confronts Opioid Addiction

September 21, 2017

More than $200 million to expand access to mental health and substance abuse services. Millions of Americans struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues. HRSA's programs aim to ensure that they can get quality and timely care closer to home. Dr. George Sigounas, HRSA Administrator

In one of the agency's largest single grant awards for mental health services targeting substance misuse, HRSA on Thursday committed more than $200 million in supplemental funding to 1,178 health centers and 13 rural health organizations in every U.S. state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin.

 

​Noting that "no corner of our country -- from rural areas to urban centers -- has escaped the scourge of the opioid crisis," HHS Secretary Tom Price, M.D., announced that the administration will provide aid "directly to local organizations, which are best situated to address substance abuse and mental health issues in their own communities."

Known as AIMS grants -- for Access Increases for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services -- they total some $200 million and focus on the treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid addiction by leveraging health information technology and providing new training and staffing funds.

Nearly 190,000 health center clinicians and support staff afford essential primary care services at more than 10,400 sites to over 24 million people across the nation and its territories. The new awards will enable them to bolster staff and speed integration of mental health services into routine care to both expand access and increase substance misuse counseling.

"Nationally, about half of all care for common mental health conditions happens in the primary care settings," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. "In health centers, where people are often most comfortable, staff with varied expertise have a unique opportunity to provide mental health and substance abuse services to patients who wouldn't otherwise seek or have access to treatment."

In hard-hit New Hampshire,  HHS Secretary Tom Price and HRSA Administrator George Sigounas joined CEO Janet Laatsch at the Goodwin Community Health Center in Somersworth to announce the AIMS grants.  Secretary Price observed that doctors in the local area have cut opioid prescribing by 13 percent since 2010, but the prescription rate is still three times higher than it was 1999. Ten health centers in the Granite State will receive $1.7 million to fight opioid misuse.
In hard-hit New Hampshire,  HHS Secretary Tom Price and HRSA Administrator George Sigounas joined CEO Janet Laatsch at the Goodwin Community Health Center in Somersworth to announce the AIMS grants.  Secretary Price observed that doctors in the local area have cut opioid prescribing by 13 percent since 2010, but the prescription rate is still three times higher than it was 1999. Ten health centers in the Granite State will receive $1.7 million to fight opioid misuse.

 

The funding is part of the Department's five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic by:

  • Improving access to treatment and recovery services.
  • Targeting use of overdose-reversing drugs.
  • Strengthening our understanding of the epidemic through better public health surveillance.
  • Providing support for cutting-edge research on pain and addiction.
  • Advancing better practices for pain management.

Rural states are more likely to have higher rates of overdose death, particularly from prescription opioid overdose. To address their unique needs, 496 of the health centers receiving awards are located in rural communities.

An additional nearly $3.3 million will go to 13 rural health organizations to increase access to treatment and recovery services for opioid misuse under the Rural Health Opioid Program and the Substance Abuse Treatment Telehealth Network Grant Program. The organizations will use these awards to advance evidence-based interventions to overcome challenges in rural communities, such as longer emergency response times and lack of access to substance abuse treatment providers.

Nearly 90% of HRSA-funded health centers provide mental health services. Chart shows the number of patients at hrsa health centers, which nearly doubled from 2010 (852,984) to 2016 (1,788,577).
Nearly 90% of HRSA-funded health centers provide mental health services

 

The new rural opioid program provides about $2.5 million for 10 rural health organizations in Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Ohio, and Virginia to help those in need find locally available treatment options and support services through partnerships with local health care providers and other community-based groups.

The telehealth program will invest $670,000 in three organizations to use evidence-based, telehealth projects and networks to improve access to substance abuse treatment in rural, frontier and underserved communities.

"Research shows that drug overdose deaths are 45 percent higher in rural areas compared to urban communities," Dr. Sigounas said in a blog post Thursday afternoon. "Rural residents struggling with substance abuse issues, particularly opioid use disorder, often face unique challenges such as isolation and stigma. Both FORHP programs aim to strengthen interventions to overcome these challenges."

For more from HRSA's Federal Office of Rural Health Policy.

View rural opioid and telehealth recipients.

For a list of AIMS award recipients.

Find a health center near you.

Date Last Reviewed:  October 2017


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