Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, M.D. announced that HHS will soon provide $485 million in grants to help states and territories combat opioid addiction. The funding, which is the first of two rounds provided for in the 21st Century Cures Act, will be provided through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The funding will be issued to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, four U.S. territories, and the free associated states of Palau and Micronesia. Funding will support a comprehensive array of prevention, treatment, and recovery services depending on the needs of recipients. States and territories were awarded funds based on rates of overdose deaths and unmet need for opioid addiction treatment.
Secretary Price sent a letter to governors whose states are receiving grants and outlined his and the administration’s firm commitment to address the opioid crisis as each state and territory across the country works to address the significant health, social, and economic consequences. In his letter to governors, Secretary Price wrote, in part:
“As I begin my tenure as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), I do so with a profound commitment to addressing this public health crisis as one of our top three Departmental priorities. Opioids were responsible for over 33,000 deaths in 2015; this alarming statistic is unacceptable to me. We cannot continue to lose our nation’s citizens to addiction. Through a sustained focus on people, patients, and partnerships, I am confident that together we can turn the tide on this public health crisis.”
“President Trump recently announced the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. This Commission is tasked with studying the scope and effectiveness of the federal response to this crisis and providing recommendations to the President for improving it. HHS is uniquely positioned to contribute in this important effort as a key agency providing critical resources for care and treatment.”
In the letter, Secretary Price commits to continue working with governors to combat the evolving opioid crisis and to ensure federal funding supports clinically sound, effective, and efficient programs, stating:
“These grants aim to increase access to treatment, reduce unmet need, and reduce overdose related deaths. I understand the urgency of this funding; however, I also want to ensure the resources and policies are properly aligned with and remain responsive to this evolving epidemic. Therefore, while I am releasing the funding for the first year immediately, my intention for the second year is to develop funding allocations and policies that are the most clinically sound, effective and efficient. To that end, in the coming weeks and months, I will seek your assistance to identify best practices, lessons learned, and key strategies that produce measureable results. Thank you for your collaboration and partnership as we move forward in this critical work together to help the millions of Americans hurt by this public health crisis.”
To combat the ongoing opioid crisis, HHS has prioritized five specific strategies: strengthening public health surveillance, advancing the practice of pain management, improving access to treatment and recovery services, targeting availability and distribution of overdose-reversing drugs, and supporting cutting-edge research.