Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced Friday that Idaho was awarded $1,002,083 in funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration to support three health centers.
Officials say the centers are designed to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations.
“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” Burwell said. “Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”
The abuse of and addiction to opioids -- such as heroin and prescription pain medication -- is a serious and increasing public health problem. Experts say about 4.5 million people in the United States were “non-medical prescription pain reliever users” in 2013, and an estimated 289,000 were current heroin users.
HHS also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.
Administered by the HHS Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA),
With these awards, Idaho will be able to increase the number of patients screened for substance use disorders and connected to treatment, increase the number of patients with access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use and other substance use disorder treatment, and provide training and educational resources to help health professionals make informed prescribing decisions.
Nationally, this $94 million investment is expected to help states hire approximately 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients.
“Health centers treat some of the most at-risk patients in the country,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “These awards position health centers to be at the forefront of the fight against opioid abuse in underserved communities.”
Research demonstrates that a whole-patient approach to treatment -- through a combination of medication and counseling and behavioral therapies -- is most successful in treating opioid use disorders.
In 2014, officials said over 1.3 million people received behavioral health services at health centers, a 75 percent increase since 2008. Officials pointed out that the funding announced Friday builds upon previous investments by providing support to health centers to improve and expand the delivery of MAT (medication-assisted treatment) substance abuse services -- with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations.
The Department is focused on three key areas when it comes to the opioid crisis: improving opioid prescribing practices, increasing the use of Naloxone, and increasing access to MAT. In addition, President Obama has made addressing the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic a top priority and issued a Presidential Memorandum last year on improving access to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.