HRSA Awards 200 million as States and Local Governments Tackle the Opioid Epidemic

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded more than $200 million 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 to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services.  The funds will support 1,178 health centers to support expansion and integration of mental health services and substance abuse services and including provisions to increase personnel, leveraging health information technology, and providing training.  

The funding comes at an important time as local and state governments take a strong stance to on multiple fronts to address the opioid crises.  Dozens have even announced or publicly considered lawsuits against drug makers or distributors.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2015 data, more than 52,000 Americans died from drug overdose. Most of the deaths involved prescription opioids such as OxyContin or Vicodin or related illicit drugs such as heroin and fentanyl.  Half of the HRSA grant dollars, for each clinic awarded, a one-time fund infusion, can be used for information technology. The other half can be used for ongoing program costs, such as staffing.  

A number of counties, such as Lake County, CA, will leverage the funds to expand mental health and substance abuse services and connect with the CA statewide Opioid Overdose Surveillance Dashboard, a collaborative project of the state Department of Public Health, the state Department of Justice and the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.