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Obama pledges funds for heroin and prescription opioid addiction treatment

Posted on 03-29-16 in Advocacy, Substance Abuse

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Speaking at the National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta, President Obama proposed over $1 billion in funding to “help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.”

Eight administration actions

In conjunction with the summit, the Obama administration will roll out the following eight measures to combat the heroin and prescription opioid epidemic. These are:

  1. Expand access to treatment. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposes to increase from 100 to 200 the number of patients physicians can prescribe buprenorphine to for addiction. HHS and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) have allotted $94 million and $11 million, respectively, in funding for treatment.
  1. Establish a mental health and substance use disorder parity task force. This interagency task force is charged with ensuring that benefits for mental health and substance abuse have parity with those for physical conditions, as defined by federal law.
  1. Ensure this parity exists in Medicaid. By law, behavioral health benefits must be comparable to medical and surgical benefits.
  1. Prevent opioid overdose deaths. Part of the SAMHSA funding will go toward providing states with a supply of naloxone, an emergency opioid antagonist used to reverse overdoses.
  1. Expand public health-public safety partnerships to fight heroin abuse. The Office of National Drug Control Policy will expand its number of High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTAs) to include Ohio and Michigan. These will join Appalachia, New England, Philadelphia/Camden, New York/New Jersey and Washington/Baltimore as hubs for partnerships between law enforcement and public health departments to combat heroin use.
  1. Invest in community policing efforts to combat heroin use. The Department of Justice will provide a $7 million funding opportunity to investigate the distribution of heroin and the unlawful distribution of prescription painkillers.
  1. Tackle abuse in rural communities. The Department of Agriculture expanded its $1.4 million Rural Health and Safety Grant Program to include a focus on addressing challenges peculiar to rural communities combating abuse.
  1. Implement syringe service programs. HHS will spearhead federally-funded clean syringe programs to combat the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other disease caused by intravenous drug use.

Other actions and programs

In addition to these actions, beginning in the fall, more than 60 medical schools will require students to take prescriber education in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids and Chronic Pain. Students who fail to complete these courses will not graduate.

  • Read the first installment of our state-by-state drug policy analysis.

The Food and Drug Administration announced changes to labeling information for immediate-release opioid painkillers. The labeling data will include information about the dangers of misuse and abuse as well as the risks of overdose and death associated with the drugs.

Lastly, the Drug Enforcement Agency will hold its 11th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 30. The 10 previous Take-Back Days have netted over 5 million pounds of medications.

Sovereign Health Group stays current on developments in the nation’s addiction policies. You can follow our State of Addiction Policy editorial series for additional coverage. If you or someone you know may have developed a substance abuse disorder, call our 24/7 helpline to learn more about your options.

About the author:

Darren Fraser is a content writer for Sovereign Health Group. He worked two and half years as reporter and researcher for The Yomiuri Shimbun until they realized he did not read, speak or write Japanese and fired him. Undeterred, he channels his love of research into unearthing stories that provide hope to those dealing with addiction and mental illness. Darren loves the Montreal Canadiens hockey club and horror films and would prefer to enjoy these from the comforts of his family’s farm in Quebec. For more information about this media, contact the author at news@sovhealth.com