Article originally published by Jonathan Greene
In December when Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called it an important step in helping foster solutions for heartbreaking illnesses like addiction.
Last week, the federal government took another important step in the fight against the drug epidemic by announcing $485 million in grants to help states and territories combat opioid addiction.
“Opioids were responsible for more than 33,000 deaths in 2015, this alarming statistic is unacceptable to me,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in a release. “We cannot continue to lose our nation’s citizens to addiction. Through a sustained focus on people, patients, and partnerships, I am confident that together we can turn the tide on this public health crisis.”
The Cures Act authorized $1 billion in funding for state grants to address the opioid epidemic over two years. Kentucky will receive nearly $10.5 million during this round of funding.
Two rounds of funding is provided for in the Cures Act and this round will be provided through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants administered by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), according to an HHS release.
Doug Hogan, spokesperson for the state cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS), said the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (BHDID) is the lead state agency on the project.
“Priority populations we hope to impact include pregnant and parenting women with an opioid abuse disorder; incarcerated individuals with opioid abuse disorder who are re-entering the community; and individuals treated for an overdose in Emergency Room settings,” Hogan said in a statement to The Register. “Additionally, these funds will help us implement strategies for preventing opioid abuse and overdoses; practices for opioid abuse treatment — particularly Medication Assisted Treatment; and increased access to treatment and recovery support services.”
Hogan noted the state was notified earlier in the year of the funding opportunity. It gathered input from community mental health centers and providers before submitting its grant proposal.
McConnell said the funding will be welcome news to those in Kentucky and across the county working to firth opioid abuse.
“The implementation of the 21st Century Cures bill, bipartisan legislation that I helped shepherd through the Senate, will bolster medical innovation by promoting critical investments in research and treatment development,” said McConnell in a statement. “It also puts patients first and helps strengthen the kind of research and treatments needed to cure the most devastating diseases.”
In addition to providing funding to fight the drug epidemic, the Cures Act will provide nearly $5 billion over the next several years to the National Institutes of Heath for research into genetic, lifestyle and environmental variations of disease. It will also improve and strengthen America’s mental health system, strengthen pediatric and high risk/high reward medical research and support a “Eureka Prize Competition” to foster research that could realize significant advancements in health outcomes and disease treatments.
“Kentucky has been particularly hard hit by the opioid and drug addiction crisis,” said Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky, in a statement to The Register. “While no single program or grant will solve this epidemic, these funds will help Kentucky fight back. I am proud to have voted for the 21st Century Cures Act which made this funding possible, and I remain committed to doing more to prevent drug addiction and to help more Kentuckians recover.”
Jonathan Greene is the editor of The Richmond Register.