Government Increases Access to Substance Use Disorder Treatment

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) this week announced new steps to increase access to substance use disorder treatment services, focusing on treatment for opioid use disorder. HHS is making additional funding available to states and community health centers to expand the use of medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder, and is releasing guidance to help states implement innovative approaches to substance use disorder treatment.

According to a study conducted by researchers at the Food and Drug Administration, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of past-year opioid abuse or dependence significantly exceeded treatment capacity each year, increasing from 634.1 per 100,000 in 2003 to 891.8 per 100,000 in 2012.

“For those Americans who have fallen into opioid addiction and dependency, we can make the greatest impact by helping them move into recovery,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “This funding will expand access to medication-assisted treatment and help states and community health centers continue to improve their responses to the opioid epidemic.”

The new funding for medication-assisted treatment is provided through SAMHSA, and next week, the Health Resources and Services Administration will make $100 million available in additional funding to improve and expand the delivery of substance use disorder services, with a focus on medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.

SAMHSA is awarding up to $11 million annually to eleven states across the nation to increase access to comprehensive medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders. The eleven SAMHSA grants for medication-assisted treatment will provide up to $33 million over three years. States can use the funding to enhance and expand their treatment service systems for people with opioid use disorders.  The grants promote effective, comprehensive, coordinated care including evidence-based medication-assisted treatment and recovery support services.

HHS is also creating innovative ways for states to address substance use disorders. In response to a number of requests from states and stakeholders, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is offering state Medicaid programs a new opportunity to receive federal funding through a demonstration project that reimburses for substance use disorder treatment. This will help states implement innovative treatment approaches, including developing effective care coordination models to better connect those with substance use disorders to providers.