Obama Administration to Spend $94 Million to Expand Drug Addiction Treatment

The Obama Administration announced Friday it plans to spend $94 million to improve and expand delivery of substance abuse services in health centers. The funding will focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations.

The funding will be distributed to 271 health centers in 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell said in a statement. The funding will come from grants under the Affordable Care Act, The Hill reports. The money will allow treatment providers to hire about 800 people to work with almost 124,000 new patients.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” said Secretary Burwell. “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 awards to health centers are designed 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 decisions about prescribing.

The announcement came a day after the Senate passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which expands the availability of medication-assisted treatment, including in criminal justice settings, and supports treatment as an alternative to incarceration.

CARA calls for spending as much as $80 million on treatment, prevention and recovery. It does not include actual funding, which would have to come through an appropriations bill.

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