Federal health officials are preparing to allocate nearly $1 billion to support states in their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration said Friday it is accepting applications from states and territories to score a portion of the $930 million in state opioid response grants for their opioid prevention and treatment initiatives.
"The state opioid response grants were designed to meet the specific needs of communities within each state and territory," said Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use Dr. Elinore F. McCance-Katz in a statement. "The grants will expand capacity to provide much needed evidence-based care to people who haven't yet been reached."
The money is part of the more than $2 billion in funding slated to address the opioid epidemic over the next two years. Congress appropriated the funds as part of the spending agreement passed in February.
SAMHSA will award up to 59 grants, and states and the District of Columbia can receive a minimum of $4 million. Fifteen percent of the funding will go to 10 states that have suffered the most drug overdose deaths of have the highest proportion of residents who have substance use disorder but don't receive treatment.
States will receive grants for projects lasting up to two years that focus on providing data the identify gaps in access to substance use disorder treatment and utilize evidence-based strategies to best address those gaps. Grantees will also be required to deliver evidence-based treatment interventions that include medication assisted treatments and psychosocial interventions, and will have to report their progress toward increasing access and reducing overdose deaths.
"This large new grant program reflects President Trump's deep commitment to fighting the opioid crisis, and will provide extra support for the hardest-hit states," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in a statement. "It demonstrates the emphasis we place on expanding access to treatment that works, especially medication-assisted treatment with appropriate social supports."
In April, the Trump administration released $485 million in opioid response funding grants to states as part of the agency's Opioid State Targeted Response grants.
Friday's announcement comes one day after the release of the House Appropriations Committee's fiscal year 2019 draft budget bill that calls for more than $3.8 billion to address substance use disorder, a $1 billion increase over what was spent on the opioid response last year.