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Blunt Announces $3.7 Billion for Health-Related Programs Targeting the Opioid Epidemic

Jackson County Advocate - 7/11/2018

U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor/HHS), today announced that the Labor/ HHS appropriations bill for fiscal year 2019 includes $3.7 billion in funding for programs targeting the opioid epidemic. As chairman, Blunt has led efforts to increase opioid-related funding and repeatedly called for increased resources to combat the epidemic.

"The opioid epidemic is destroying lives, straining local health and law enforcement resources, and costing our economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year," said Blunt. "This bill provides flexible funding for states to tackle this crisis with programs that best fit their needs. The bill directs resources to the hardest-hit states and rural communities, which are affected at a higher rate than urban or suburban areas. And, the bill continues funding for mental health and substance abuse treatment programs for children in, or at-risk for entering, the foster care system. From researching opioid alternatives, to expanding access to treatment and prevention programs, to providing critical services for children affected by this crisis, this bill reinforces our commitment to ending this epidemic and saving lives."

With this year's funding bill taken into account, under Blunt's chairmanship, funding for opioid-related Labor/HHS programs has increased by nearly $3.4 billion ? a 1,274 percent increase ? over four years.

The $3.7 Billion for Opioid-Related Labor/HHS Programs Includes:

· $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants. This funding replaces $500 million in expiring funding from the 21st Century Cures Act and provides flexible funding to states to implement opioid use disorder interventions in the best way that fits state needs. Blunt secured a funding increase for state opioid response grants in the omnibus appropriations bill, which was signed into law in March. Thanks to that effort, Missouri is now eligible to receive $28 million in funding this year.

· $200 million for Community Health Centers to support and enhance behavioral health, mental health, or substance use disorder services.

· $120 million, an increase of $20 million, focused on responding to the opioid epidemic in rural communities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), drug-related deaths are 45 percent higher in rural communities, and rural states are more likely to have higher rates of overdose deaths.

· $476 million at the CDC for opioid overdose prevention and surveillance, as well as a public awareness campaign. The bill includes $5 million for a new initiative to combat infectious diseases directly related to opioid use.

· $500 million for research related to opioid addiction, development of opioid alternatives, pain management, and addiction treatment.

· $60 million for child abuse prevention and treatment programs to support the development and implementation of plans of safe care for infants affected by substance abuse.

· $40 million for mental health and substance abuse prevention and treatment programs for children and youth in, or at risk for entering, the foster care system.


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